With the release of his new book, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Chip Gaines—co-host with his wife, Joanna, of HGTV’s Fixer Upper—reveals surprising stories from his life as a business owner, husband and father. Here are a few enlightening facts behind the hometown success story:
1. The couple diversifies in a unified way.
The Gaineses don’t just invest in property through their real estate company, or run their construction company and design firm, Magnolia Homes. They also own a residential subdivision (Magnolia Villas), a retail shopping center (Magnolia Market), vacation rentals and a new restaurant (Magnolia Table, opening soon). They have partnerships with retail chains like Target to sell their home décor, paint and other products. These various ventures are independent in many ways, but they’re unified in one important way: Each venture makes sense with their overall brand. The couple has stayed true to their core talents and abilities, while branching out into new endeavors.
2. Chip is a writer but not a reader.
He does read, but he has to be very intentional about it and describes himself as “an awful reader.” In Capital Gaines, he shares how in first grade he still didn’t know the ABCs and was put into a special reading group to try and catch up. He says he still struggles with reading, but his slow, steady pace has taught him a lot of attention to detail when writing. He believes that a skill for observing things and taking his time as he writes are also key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.
3. Joanna and Chip walk their talk when it comes to putting family first.
Yes, their four kids are on set with them sometimes when late nights are required. And yes, the Gaineses both have to travel from time to time, which can mean missing events or bedtime stories. But Jo and Chip have created habits that let the kids know that, despite the demands of Fixer Upper the last few years, they’re still first in the hearts of their parents. Home-schooling on the farm property keeps the kids close by for quick check-ins and lots of time with Mom and Dad during off hours. And a special goodbye speech reminding the kids that they’re just a phone call away gives them the power to ask their parents to come back home if it’s really important. Family comes first, and the Gaineses’ decision to step away from their hit TV show at the height of its popularity is further evidence of what (or rather, who) is at the top of their priority list.
4. Both Chip’s and Joanna’s parents also worked together while married.
The pair comes from a legacy of marital partnerships that extended into business. “I think that contributes to how natural it feels to us,” Chip says. Joanna’s parents ran a Firestone dealership, where Chip first met Joanna and asked her out. And Chip’s mother helped his father at the family’s sporting goods store and flooring company. “Having that modeled for us by our parents and seeing how they worked through their differences gave us that much more confidence that this lifestyle could work for us too,” Chip says. The key to the successful working relationship? Chip says it’s giving each other space to make mistakes.
5. It took a trip to Mexico to turn Chip into the U.S. entrepreneurial success he is today (and it just might have wrecked his relationship with Jo!).
By the time he was in his early 20s, Chip owned three businesses, including a landscaping company. He gave into a youthful desire to spend six months in Mexico in a Spanish immersion class. To do this and keep his businesses going, he had to leave his then-girlfriend, Joanna, in charge. His parents told him not to go. “Who wouldn’t want to go spend a few months on a beach in Mexico?” he recalls them saying. “But you have guys who are counting on you to help feed their families now!” Chip saw this as negativity and went to Mexico despite the warnings. It only took a few weeks for the businesses to cave in on themselves and for Jo to demand his return. He came back with his tail between his legs and a whole new understanding of what it meant to be a responsible—and successful—business owner, not to mention a good boyfriend.
6. They strive to live each day like it’s Saturday.
Rather than dreading Monday—or any other time—the Gaineses work to live their lives in a way that’s adjustable and flexible. In his book, Chip explains that living each day like a Saturday means they have to be “able to turn on a dime.” Rather than getting bored with a stale routine, the Gaineses aim to keep things interesting and embrace change. That’s what Chip’s Saturdays were like growing up—full of responsibilities but flexible around his choices. Today, he and Joanna choose to pursue their dreams off-camera and keep their family in front.