I have decided to do this blog post because so many people ask and are interested in what it was like for me to work for HGTV’s Fixer Upper.
When I graduated from Baylor I needed a design job in Waco. I searched through all the design stores and I really couldn’t find anyone hiring. I had heard of “Magnolia” the store, but I was not aware that they would need or hire a designer. But I decided to apply anyways.
Long story short (after applying several times) Joanna interviewed me and I got the job. So right out of college I was hired to be Joanna’s “hands and feet”. Most people do not realize that Chip and Jojo built that company from the ground up. Literally. They put in countless hours, who knows how much stress, and all their hearts…that’s why it is what it is today. Their story starts long before I ever showed up one the scene.
If you have ever worked for a small company then you know it wasn’t long before I started wearing multiple hats. I think I wore every hat you could possibly wear for a business, except owner. I was a designer, office manager, books keeper, baby sitter, toilet cleaner, contractor, customer service rep, personal assistant, and I even wrote a few news letters for the Villas. I am NOT claiming that I was the best at any of these things…but I got an opportunity and a taste for all of it!
Working for a family like the Gaines is really unique. They are exactly whom they appear to be on TV. In fact before they got the TV show Chip would always say that they needed one, because their lives were crazy (in a good way) and hilarious. Really there is never a dull moment…except the time I had to research insurance companies.
Joanna is devoted, talented, and smart. She is a tornado! When something needs to get done she gets it done. I remember when I was keeping up with the books she would have to come in behind me and do a clean up. Watching her knock that out like it was first grade math was so humbling for me, but again I learned. I also remember getting sonic shakes after a design meeting. Joanna always (not sometimes) sees an opportunity in a space that others miss. She can take anything and make it beautiful. Working around her was inspiring, and I really miss working for her!
I don’t think Chip’s brain ever turns off. I think he dreams up business ideas 24/7. A true entrepreneur, motivator, and he certainly doesn’t stop to take a breath either. He always used to tell us “kiddos” to work smart, not hard. That is definitely something that I have carried with me. There are two kinds of entrepreneurs: those that hit a wall and quit, and those that hit a wall and then find a solution. Chip is certainly the latter, there is no wall that he cannot get around.
All in all, I loved working for the Gaines family. I love their “babies” as Chip calls them, I loved them, and I love what I learned. I loved my co worker Kristen and all the time we spent trying to build systems and processes as we were going through them… constantly “putting the cart before the horse (Chip’s quote)”. It was hard work, it was fast, and full of moving parts and there was never a dull moment. I learned that creativity cannot be boxed, and I learned that pulling a permit is a night mare.
I left after they filmed the first episode of Fixer Upper. I am sure so much has changed since I left. For starters, there used to only be four of us that worked there! I know now that there are lots of incredibly talented employees that work for all sides of the business. It was hard to leave, but walking away with so much knowledge and experience is something that I will always remember and be thankful for.
Photo from http://www.magnoliahomes.net
This is one of my all time favorites because I got to see the process from beginning to end. I don’t think anyone could have transformed this house quite like Joanna did. This house is through and through “Magnolia style”.