I’m still pretty high from reading the The Magnolia Story, a book about Chip and Joanna Gaines, an extraordinary husband-and-wife tandem from Waco Texas who relentlessly pursued their passions and built a homegrown brand that is now widely known around the world.
But the book is not just about the success of their passionate pursuits. It’s also a story of their journey as husband, wife, and business partners. Although it’s unlikely that you have not heard of them, I’ll give a quick backgrounder just the same. (Go ahead and scroll a few paragraphs down if you already know who the Gaines are!)
This is Magnolia
Chip and Joanna rose to fame in Fixer Upper, an HGTV reality show where they remodel dilapidated fixer uppers in Central Texas, bringing out their original southern charm, and turning them into their clients’ dream homes. They call their business “Magnolia Homes” where Chip manages the construction and realty side and Joanna takes the lead designer role.
Today, Fixer Upper is on its fifth season, and the Magnolia empire has also branched out to several sub-brands:
- The Magnolia Market, a home décor shop that sells curated products from various artisans around the globe, and Joanna’s own line of home decors, rugs, and paint.
- The Magnolia Silos, a family-friendly shopping complex that has instantly turned Waco Texas a tourist spot.
- The Silos Baking Co, a bakery that sells home baked goods.
- The Magnolia Journal, a quarterly home and lifestyle publication.
- The Magnolia House, a boutique bed and breakfast you can book while you’re in Waco.
All photos are grabbed from www.magnoliamarket.com
Chip and Joanna Gaines have been uniquely blessed with a huge platform to launch these massively successful businesses, and last year they generously shared details of their journey through their first book, The Magnolia Story.
There’s much to pick up, really, but I took note of some important lessons about marriage, family, faith, and pursuing passions. Here they are:
1. Every season has a purpose in our story.
We see or read about Chip and Joanna’s massive success today, but what we don’t see online or on TV are the years of struggle and hard work—including the big and small failures—that allowed them to mature as business owners and home makers.
The book talked all about these details, and as a parent myself, I’m particularly inspired by how they embraced their seasons and knew how to make the most of them.
- When they were newlyweds, they hustled hard and put in a lot of hours flipping houses. Since Jo didn’t have past experience in real estate or interior design, she made the most out of this season to develop her skills, grow her portfolio, and learn the ins and outs of the business.
- Before they had kids, Chip encouraged Jo to pursue her dream of opening a boutique home décor shop. Not having kids yet, she invested her time learning about business management and nurturing her passion for designing homes.
- When they had 2 kids, they decided to close the shop so that Jo can focus on the children. Sounds familiar, mommies? She knew that it was her season for raising kids and while it was hard for her to close up shop, she knew that her dreams can wait and setting it aside was temporary. Investing on her kids while they’re still young, however, can’t.
- By the time Fixer Upper hit the TV screens (eventually becoming a hit!), Chip and Jo and their family are ready. They have 4 young kids but by this time they’ve already built a well-oiled business empire.
As their TV show makes its fifth season, the power couple just continues to roll with new ideas to expand their market. I’m guessing they know that Fixer Upper will not last forever, and they’re making the most out of this season, while they can.
It’s a season to reap the harvest of the seeds they’ve planted, and they don’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.
I reckon it’s a combination of God’s grace and favor, obedience and hard work, and a clear understanding of their seasons in life that makes it all work out of Chip and Jo.
They’re always ones to say that family is their first priority, and in this season of raising young children, they know enough that everything else comes secondary to their ultimate calling as parents.
2. Never underestimate the power of a loving marriage and a harmonious family life.
One of the things that make Fixer Upper such a hit is the chemistry between Chip and Jo. Chip’s funny and manly antics, Joanna’s smart and intuitive ways, and the way their personalities and unique strengths complement so well—makes them very relatable, adorable, and inspiring to watch. In the words of millennials, these two are #relationshipgoals in every way.
Photos from Gospel Herald.
But more than their on-screen and real life chemistry, Chip and Jo would constantly testify about how they motivate each other to pursue their crazy ideas and become better versions of themselves.
When Jo was younger she would write down her dreams and ideas in her steno notebook but was too hesitant to pursue them because she constantly calculated the risks. Sounds familiar, y’all? Chip, on the other hand, who’s more of a risk taker and has a bit more experience in business, pushed Jo to pursue her passions.
In the same way, Jo keeps Chip grounded. She supports him in his adventures, bails him (quite literally, it seems) when she needs to, and tackles the nitty gritties of his big crazy ideas. They’re constantly inspired by each other, which I believe is one of the keys to their success.
I think this is very relevant today, a time where raising a family is usually seen as something that gets in the way of chasing dreams. Some of us has to set aside our careers to raise our family, or maybe shelve our dream business ideas in exchange for a more stable and secured job.
Family and career is always a tough one to balance, and watching Chip and Jo navigate through this tension shows us that it is possible to thrive in both without sacrificing one or the other.
And then of course there’s the love and support of the extended family, which is also evident in Jo and Chip’s life story. Although not everyone gets to have supportive families and in-laws like they do, you know that it’s always an extra boost of encouragement when you have your entire village on the journey with you.
3. Wives don’t always “have to be in the kitchen.” In fact, wives are naturally great business women. ;)
Although Jo does love being in the kitchen a lot, too!
I’m saying this with full acknowledgement that yes, as homemakers, family should always be a priority for us women. I reckon Jo knew this when she closed her shop in 2006 to raise her young kids.
But what I love about Chip is how he didn’t (and wouldn’t!) contain Jo within the bounds of homemaking; instead, he pushed her to her maximum potential and allowed her to shine both inside and outside of the home.
Fixer Upper viewers would know when Chip would instinctively step back and not get in the way of Jo when she’s doing what she does best. While Chip has his own important role in building the Magnolia empire, we do see Jo’s brilliance and very distinct touch in every Magnolia project.
As I mentioned above, they seem to have mastered how to play by each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and use these to accomplish what has to be done.
I think it says a lot about the husbands when their wives bloom and thrive, so I’ve got to hand this one to Chip!
More so, as someone who believes that God designed marriage as a sacred and life-long covenant, I find it really inspiring to see this couple totally live up to the biblical design of marriage. When you love and respect each other and you submit to one another in obedience to God, this mutual love, respect, and submission trickles down to every aspect of your life.
IMO, this is as practical as it is spiritual.
Because when you know there’s mutual love and respect, support for each other’s dreams, and acknowledgement of each other’s roles, weaknesses, and strengths—it helps you become more motivated and effective as a partner. You find that standing by each other’s decisions, being more forgiving of each other’s mistakes, celebrating each other’s victories, and getting through hurdles become more natural than obligatory.
Chip and Jo talked about this in a video I found last year. In this clip they talked about how, they don’t only complement and balance each other out, they also push each other out of their comfort zones and live out what God created them to be.
I say, this is a must-watch for married couples, both young and old:
Chip: “I learn so much about order and structure and processes through my wife, and God is all of those things to me now. At the beginning God was just chaotic to me. He was wild, He was untamed, He was unruly, and I like that.”
Jo: “God has a funny way of bringing me Chip. To almost have this reality of how it’s like to follow Christ, which is, a lot of the things are just going to push you into a place of discomfort, a lot of the things are just going to push you into a place of freaking out, it takes someone (like Chip) to get it out there.. I don’t want to be in a box anymore. I don’t want to play it safe. Because the greater impact is over here on the other side. I was made for a reason and I need to let whatever God has created me for, that has to be known. I don’t want to stay hidden.”
Pretty awesome when you find out that these two are not just your ordinary reality TV celebrities. ;)
4. When God closes a door, it doesn’t mean that the door will remain close forever.
Joanna talked about the time when she had to close her boutique home décor shop in 2006 when they had their second baby. She said, at the time it felt like God was locking away her dreams just when it was finally taking off.
On a personal note, this is probably my most favorite chapter in the book.
These paragraphs would tell you why:
“I truly loved everything about the shop, but the voice just kept telling me, Jo, it’s time. I wrestled with it for weeks until finally I felt it in my heart. I thought about the words of all those women who were in my shop every day, telling me to cherish this time with my child.
And as much as I didn’t want it to be true, I could no longer deny that the voice was right.
. . .
In March 2006, we sold off everything—the inventory, the displays, even the cash register. And it was hard. That shop was my dream, a dream that landed on my yellow steno pad after I came back from my eye-opening internship in New York City. It was the first dream of mine that I’d seen come to fruition, and in many ways it was like our first baby.
. . .
The shop was more to me than an accomplishment or even the fulfillment of a dream. It was something Chip and I had dreamed and accomplished together. From scratch. It wasn’t his business that I added to, or my business that he added to. It was ours.
. . .
I will remember ’til the day I die the moment I stood on the front steps and locked that shop door for the last time as tears rolled down my face. Even as I stood on those steps, trying to say good-bye, I kept asking God, “Are you sure this is the right move? If it is, why does it seem so painful and hard?”
That’s when I heard that gentle whisper, Joanna, if you trust me with your dreams, I’ll take them further than you could have ever imagined.
. . .
I felt good about having made the decision to walk away and lock that door. It’s funny, though, looking back on it now, because one very simple concept in life never occurred to me as I was walking away:
Even locked doors can be unlocked in time.
I simply never could have imagined just how much God had in store for us, and I certainly couldn’t have dreamed just how many keys to other doors God had already placed in our hands.”
Do you sometimes read other people’s stories and wonder how your own story looks like? This chapter made me reminisce my own closed doors and how God opened new doors that ultimately lead me where He needed me to be.
But I also had some of what Joanna had. Doors that had to be closed for a little while, keys stored in God’s care, just waiting for the perfect time to be unlocked.
It’s always a beautiful moment when you realize that God didn’t really mean to say NO, He just wanted you to wait a little bit longer. Because what He has for you is so much greater than the dream you entrusted to His care. And all it makes you think in the end is, “well played, God, well played!”
This book is, thumbs up, one of the best reads I had this year. (I’ve been reading this year, yes!) And pretty relevant too as I go about my own pursuits.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur and you’re living under a rock and didn’t know who the Gaines are, I think you’ll like this book very much.
Know more about Chip and Joanna Gaines through their official website, the Magnolia Market.
Trivia: Do you know that Joanna Gaines was discovered by HGTV through a mommy blog that featured a tour of their house? Yep.
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- Blogging resources for creative entrepreneurs
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