Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
April 19, 1978
2013 - Present
Currently Known For:
Designer and Shop Owner
Starring alongside her husband, Chip, in Fixer Upper and their Waco, Texas businesses, Magnolia Market at the Silos and Magnolia Homes
“Somehow, against every odd in the world, Waco became a tourist destination, a lifestyle aspiration, a relocation consideration, and it’s all because of Chip and Joanna Gaines.” Bringing life back to Waco one shiplap wall at a time, Joanna Gaines and her husband, Chip, have certainly reinvigorated the Texas town after rising to fame in 2013 when the couple made their television debut on their HGTV series, Fixer Upper. Over the last four years, Joanna and Chip have flipped over a hundred homes and built their brand while watching their biggest dreams come true with the expansion of their flagship store into the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which is now a tourist destination. Adding in a line of textiles and paints, a best-selling book and more, Joanna recently announced their decision to end Fixer Upper to spend more time with their four children and their growing businesses in their beloved hometown. Where will that leave America’s favorite DIY couple?
Born in Wichita, Kansas on April 19, 1978 but raised in the Lone Star State, Joanna Stevens Gaines was raised to appreciate a good love story after her parents—her half-German, half-Lebanese father and her Korean mother—met and fell in love when he was stationed in Korea in 1969. Citing her parents as “an example of how to love, fight for, extend grace to, and honor,” Joanna carried that love on as the family moved to Austin, Texas when she was 12 years old and later settled down in Waco when she was a teen. After high school graduation, she enrolled at Baylor University where she studied communications and dreamed of becoming a journalist. “I always dreamed of the idea of television but never thought it would have to do with design or renovations,” she said.
Graduating with her degree in design and starring in a handful of local commercials for her father’s auto shop, Jerry Stevens Firestone, Joanna accepted an internship in New York where she fell in love with design and returned to her native Texas determined to share that passion. Coincidentally, this was around the time when she met a red-haired guy named Chip Gaines, a Waco native who knew he would marry Joanna from the moment he saw her picture on the wall of her father’s auto shop. With Chip constantly taking his truck into the shop hoping to run into Joanna, the two finally met and sat outside the shop talking for half an hour. They spent their first date eating fried chicken on the front porch of a historic mansion turned restaurant but that was only after Joanna waited nearly two hours for Chip to pick her up. “He didn’t apologize for being late, either,” Joanna wrote in The Magnolia Story. “He had so much confidence. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Only Chip could be an hour and a half late and have no one mad about it.”
Although their first date went exceptionally well, Chip waited months to return Joanna’s call because he’d made a bet with his friend to see who could hold out the longest before calling their dates back. When he finally did, there was no stopping the couple’s love story as Joanna’s naturally shy personality was instantly attracted to Chip’s charm. “At first, I couldn’t believe how kind Chip was—he had kind eyes, and made me laugh a lot… I knew he was the one because I knew I could trust him.”
Marrying in May 2003, Joanna and Chip combined their talents as Joanna joined Chip in flipping houses with their first project being their own home. “We painted over wallpaper, left the popcorn ceilings intact, and spent most of our bathroom renovation budget on double showerheads,” Joanna admitted. “I remember when we first got married the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket. But, to this day, if you ask us what our favorite house we ever lived in, we both go back to this little 800-square-foot home. We were broke and were forced to be creative with our resources and we were proud as punch about this place. Most of what I learned creatively stemmed from this little fixer upper.”
Inspired by their first project, Joanna and Chip borrowed $5,000 from the bank and opened their first retail store, Magnolia Market, in 2003. They pushed forward with Joanna developing her own blog and showcasing her designs, which is exactly what caught the attention of HGTV producer Katie Neff who called the Gaines in 2012 with an idea. “A production company saw a photo of one of our flip houses that we had done together and they called us and just said, ‘Hey, we love that you guys do real estate and you guys work together, that’s intriguing,” Joanna recalled. “From there, that’s where the whole courtship began.”
Fixer Upper debuted in May 2013 and showcased Joanna’s eye for design and Chip’s wild antics as they tackled over 100 homes over the next five seasons and became America’s favorite best friends. During the show’s run, they not only impacted families throughout Texas, they also gave back to their hometown of Waco when they expanded their flagship store into the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which is now a tourist destination that boasts a shop and bakery in addition to hosting events throughout the year. In 2016, they published their best-selling memoir, The Magnolia Story, which was followed by Chip’s 2017 release of Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff.
Amid their growing success, Joanna and Chip have always remained rooted in their family, which is why they announced that 2017 would be the last season of Fixer Upper. Although rumors went wild that the couple were going through marital problems, they’ve both set the record straight that it’s time to focus on their family especially as they take on more projects to build their brand. “The most important thing in the world is Jo and I’s relationship, followed very quickly by these four beautiful kids of ours,” Chip says of their decision. “We didn’t want to push it, to redline it for so long that we woke up and realized we are at a point of no return. So, we wanted to take a step back and focus on what is absolutely the most important thing to us.”
So, while the world may not see Joanna and Chip on Fixer Upper after the fifth season wraps in 2018, Joanna promises they’re not going anywhere—especially not with projects like their Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table, in the works. After all, it all started in Waco where Chip pushed Joanna to chase her dreams, which is why Jo promises, “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”