The Untold Truth Of Joanna Gaines

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Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip Gaines shot to fame in 2013 with the debut of their HGTV home renovation show, "Fixer Upper," and their popularity has only skyrocketed in the years since. There does not seem to be a whole lot that Joanna Gaines can't do — from raising five kids to writing books to designing home products to running a ridiculous amount of businesses, she's basically a nonstop machine. And with the debut of the Magnolia Network at the start of 2022, she can add running a cable channel to her already impressive list of responsibilities.

"Fixer Upper" had a legion of diehard fans, and Joanna Gaines herself has become a major celebrity, not to mention a house and home visionary. People rely on her expertise for not just home décor tips, but also cooking, gardening, wellness, and family togetherness. But while people know a lot about "Fixer Upper" and the basics of what the Gaineses do — and maybe even a smattering about Joanna and Chip's love affair — there are pieces of her life and business that, for many casual fans, have remained unexplored. A driven and passionate woman with a lot of ideas and even more stamina, Joanna Gaines is worth getting to know. Here is her untold truth.

Joanna Gaines grew up in Texas and Kansas

So much focus has been put upon Joanna Gaines' husband and children, but less talked about is the family into which she was born. According to a profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Joanna is the daughter of an American father, Jerry, and a Korean mother, Nan, who emigrated from Seoul, South Korea, before she was born. She has two sisters and spent most of her formative years in Kansas before moving to Waco, Texas, as a high schooler. Interestingly, Chip Gaines is also a transplant to Waco, having arrived from New Mexico to attend Baylor University.

For Joanna Gaines (née Stevens), growing up as part of a biracial family in predominantly white areas means that she knows what it is like to feel different. She has recalled being othered in school and, in particular, watching her mother deal with anti-Asian sentiments. "I remember as a little girl being out with my mom and seeing how in a moment, a person's harsh look or an underhanded comment would attempt to belittle her rich story and her beautiful culture," she wrote in an Instagram post in March 2021. She told The Hollywood Reporter that she was often subjected to name-calling as a little girl in Kansas and Texas. "Growing up as half-Asian, half-Caucasian, I get what that feels like to not be accepted and to not be loved. That's the last thing I want anyone to ever feel," she told the publication.

Her relationship with Chip Gaines didn't take off right away

Few reality TV couples seem as genuinely in love as Chip and Joanna Gaines, but their love story was not exactly smooth sailing from the start. They met in 2001, at Joanna's father's Firestone tire store. Chip was taken with Joanna from the moment he saw her in a TV commercial for her dad's shop. "My buddies used to always joke that no one could get their brakes done as often as I got my brakes done," Chip said in an interview with KWTX (via Today). When they finally had their first run-in, they hit it off and set a first date — but it did not go exactly as planned.

According to their own retelling in the book "The Magnolia Story," Chip was an hour and a half late for their first date, and he had no plan for what they were going to do. The date itself was fine, but Chip did not call again for months. Once he did follow up, things moved quickly. According to Brides, the pair got engaged roughly a year after dating, and they were married a year after that. In May 2023, Chip and Joanna will celebrate 20 years of marriage, and their brand Magnolia is actually a sweet reference to their love affair. As they recalled to Entertainment Weekly, on one of their first dates, they passed a 150-year-old magnolia tree on the Baylor University campus, which Chip climbed in order to pluck a blooming flower for Joanna.

She has helped make Waco a tourist destination

Thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, Waco, Texas, has exploded as a bona fide tourist destination. And while critics have argued that the rising costs and clutter of visitors have started to push out locals, others are happy with the city's increased visibility. In addition to filming their show "Fixer Upper" in Waco for five seasons, Mr. and Mrs. Gaines have a host of businesses that bring many visitors to the central Texas city. According to The Hollywood Reporter, before COVID hit the state in 2020, the city was bringing in nearly 2 million annual visitors, in small part due to the reality stars' presence. Per 25 ABC News, the Magnolia brand brought 70,000 visitors to Waco during one Spring Break alone, and things have only multiplied.

The biggest of Chip and Joanna's local businesses is Magnolia Market, a shopping complex where people can buy home furnishings and décor. There is also Magnolia Home, Magnolia Seed + Supply, the Magnolia Press coffee shop, the Magnolia Table restaurant, and six curated shops — ranging from bags and jewelry to clothing to paper products — called Shops at the Silos. The Silos is also home to their popular bakery, Silos Baking Co., which Joanna says she had dreamed about since opening her first store in 2003. "After our move to the Silos (our market and shops), the little building on the front of the property was the perfect spot to finally open one," she told Today. Magnolia also offers vacation rentals, hosts events, and gives tours of fixer uppers.

Joanna Gaines has designed hundreds of products for Target

Joanna Gaines has a number of partnerships, but none have been as high profile as her line for Target, called Hearth & Hand with Magnolia. Technically, the line is from both Gaineses, but the design work is more Joanna's lane. Per Country Living, the line was first started in 2017, with an attempt to capture Joanna's trademark "modern farmhouse aesthetic" with products sold for $30 or less. "We've always dreamed of working with a retailer to create a collection that could reach more people at a more affordable price point," Joanna told Today. Since starting, the brand has grown, both in number of products as well as its expansion to new categories. For instance, Hearth & Hand integrated bedding into their offerings in 2021, per Sleepopolis.

In 2020, Target announced that the line would be growing in a big way. Hearth & Hand's product count would go up to 500, which is more than double than what was offered at the start. At more than 600 Target stores, consumers can find dedicated Hearth & Hand sections selling everything from candles to lamps. "For us, this collection has always been about providing beautiful, functional pieces that people would feel confident and excited to make a part of their home," Joanna said in a statement. The products are exclusively sold at Target and they offer products for just about every room in a home, as well as seasonal offerings like pumpkins and Halloween gear for fall.

She took time off from TV after leaving Fixer Upper

In a rare move, Chip and Joanna Gaines decided to leave "Fixer Upper" and HGTV at the height of their show's popularity. They had filmed five seasons of "Fixer Upper," but had come to the point where they were simply ready for the next chapter. By the time the series had drawn to a close, it was one of the network's highest-rated shows of all time. Still, the couple called it quits in 2017, after which they took some time away from the limelight. They had, after all, not originally sought out a television career, as Chip explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "TV found us," he said.

The Gaineses addressed their year away from the cameras when they sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey, conducted as part of her "Super Soul Sunday" series. "On my side it was, when you're filming for four or five years, you begin to lose the 'why.' It's now just this thing of like we're just showing up. I think towards the end we just lost steam, we lost the purpose of it," Joanna explained in the interview. "We wanted to wake up everyday and say this is why we're doing this." The couple came back to TV in a big way, as heads of their own channel, The Magnolia Network — though much of their work is now being done behind the camera.

She runs a TV Network, but doesn't own a TV

It is almost shocking to learn that Joanna Gaines — a famous television star who now runs a whole TV network — does not have a single TV set in her home. As Apartment Therapy recapped, during their "Super Soul Sunday" interview with Oprah Winfrey, they shared that a marriage counselor that convinced the Gaineses to cut back on their small screen viewing time entirely. "They left it to us to say how long we would do it. Everybody said a couple of weeks, a couple of months; we just came back instinctively and said we wanna be without television for one year," Chip Gaines said in the interview. "We thought it would be romantic. And at the end of that one year, we said, what about another year? After that second year, we've never looked back."

With five kids, a TV seems like a no-brainer, but Joanna feels that it keeps people separate in a negative way. "You see how everyone watches television now—everyone's in their own room, on their own device," she said in an interview with Fast Company, where she also noted that her own network will aim to bring families together around the television. Their channel, Magnolia Network, is owned by the same parent company as HGTV, Warner Bros. Discovery, and has taken over the channel that was once the DIY network. Their offerings also stream on Discovery+, though we do not know what that streamer will look like once it fully merges with HBO Max.

She is very hands-on with Magnolia Networks

Putting one's name on a whole television network is not the same as being the face of a brand, and the amount of work involved is likely why so few celebrities have ever done it. Oprah Winfrey has "The Oprah Winfrey Network," of course (also partially owned by Warner Bros. Discovery), but it is not the norm to take on such a huge endeavor. For Chip and Joanna Gaines, though, Magnolia Networks seemed to be the next logical step in their evolution. Still, as Joanna admitted to Entertainment Weekly, "I don't think we understood the gravity of it."

Joanna Gaines is intimately involved in all facets of Magnolia Network productions, and she has spoken about how deeply she cares about being hands-on, even with the smaller details. Coming up with show ideas and casting talent has been especially rewarding for her, and it is a part of the process she seems to love. "We're not the network that says, 'Send in your casting tapes.' For us, it's been this really authentic way of finding talent," she told Variety. "I'd say most of our talent didn't come to us and say, 'I want to do a show.' We came to them and said, 'Can we highlight what you're doing? It's so amazing and inspiring.'" As noted in EW, in addition to casting, Joanna is involved in everything from naming programs to hosting (she has "Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines," as well as "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home").

The rumors that she is intolerant get under her skin

As popular as Joanna Gaines and her husband are, their rise to fame has not been without some controversy. Per BuzzFeed, the biggest one has to do with the church that they attend — the Antioch Community Church — which is an evangelical megachurch that discriminates against LGBTQ people. Their pastor — whom they have appeared with in videos — is not just against same-sex marriage, but has also advocated for conversion therapy. Because the Gaineses refused to directly speak about the issue for so long, many have assumed they may share these values. It does not help that there were never any same-sex couples featured across all five seasons of "Fixer Upper," despite HGTV itself being very LGBTQ-friendly.

The other big scandal that Chip and Joanna faced occurred when it was uncovered that Chip's sister was against teaching critical race theory. As The Dallas Morning News reported in May 2021, Chip and Joanna donated to her campaign for her local school board in Fort Worth, which again led people to assume they aligned with these intolerant values. In a June 2021 chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Joanna acknowledged the various controversies. "The accusations that get thrown at you, like you're a racist or you don't like people in the LGBTQ community, that's the stuff that really eats my lunch — because it's so far from who we really are. That's the stuff that keeps me up," she said.

She has handled fame better than her husband

Chip and Joanna Gaines are such big names that they had to move their offices out of their Magnolia Market homebase to the outskirts of town, just to avoid being swarmed by fans. The overwhelming level of fame has been a lot to handle, and Chip has reportedly had a much harder time with it than Joanna. Chip told Oprah Winfrey on "Super Soul Sunday" that while his other half adapted to everything that came with becoming a household name rather seamlessly, he struggled with feeling like himself. "I would say it took me a year or two while I was still filming to try to grapple with what exactly it was that I was losing," he said.

Despite being more comfortable with fame, Joanna has still acknowledged missing life before the cameras. In an Entertainment Weekly article, she admitted that she especially longed to be at the shop, interacting with customers like she used to — and that's not all she misses. "And styling a home with no cameras, being up late into the night, having friends drop off snacks...for me, that was such a romantic kind of time for us as we were growing our business, learning about ourselves," she said in the piece. "We will always look back and miss it, but we can still stand here and say, you know, without those moments we wouldn't be here today."

She and Chip Gaines have amassed a lot of money

In 2019, Joanna Gaines addressed a crowd at Hubspot's INBOUND conference and, as People reported at the time, confessed that she and her husband had, for years, worried about their finances. "Fixer Upper" really changed the game for the prolific stars, who now have a combined net worth of $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. They have so many businesses and streams of income that we could not possibly cover each and every one in depth, but suffice it to say that they are living quite well. In addition to their HGTV show, which, according to E! News (via GoBankingRates), reportedly paid them $30,000 per episode, they have long been making money from Magnolia Realty, the brokerage they founded in 2007. 

Amongst their retail spaces are Magnolia Market, Magnolia Home, Magnolia Seed + Supply, Little Shop on Bosque, and Shops at the Silos. Then they have their bakery Silos Baking Co., restaurant Magnolia Table, and coffee bar Magnolia Press. They rent housing through Magnolia Vacation Rentals, host events at their big Magnolia compound, and occasionally even offer tours of "Fixer Upper" homes. They also have Hearth & Hand with Magnolia at Target, as well as their line of wall papers sold through Anthropologie and their line of paint, available at Ace Hardware and on their website. Joanna also has seven books, the Gaineses produce a quarterly journal, and let's not forget Magnolia Network.

Joanna Gaines sees motherhood as her first priority

Chip and Joanna Gaines are parents to five kids — Drake, Ella, Duke, Emmie, and Crew — and a host of domestic and farm animals. With their sprawling empire, we really don't know how Joanna and Chip Gaines chase after one child, let alone multiple. But somehow, they manage to find time to raise their family and for Joanna, being a parent is always top priority. "Motherhood means everything to me. Everything else in my life can go away, but that's my thing. That's what wakes me up. It's my heart — these kids," she said in a conversation with Jenna Bush Hager for Southern Living.

In the Southern Living piece, Gaines discussed some of the unique ways she bonds with her kids, including having them help her in the garden — something she used as fodder for her children's book, "We Are the Gardeners." She has also said she likes to have dance parties and do magic tricks with her kids, though in a piece for Magnolia Journal (via People), she acknowledges that she is not naturally as fun and easygoing as her husband. "Once I'm in it, I'm reminded that I'm more than I thought I was," she wrote. "I know I could choose to be OK with Chip being the playful one for our kids...but I think that would mean missing out on moments that are truly beautiful, and that work to refine and sharpen who I am and the kind of mom I want to be."

Joanna Gaines identifies as a homebody

One of Joanna Gaines' books is entitled, "Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave," so it should come as no surprise that she embraces the "homebody" title with love. Gaines has confessed to not only feeling at ease when she's at her own house, but productive. As she told Fast Company, "For me, I get most inspired when I'm at home." She says that she has always treasured that quality time. "I was a homebody. Just being with my family at home is when I felt the most loved, the most known, and the most valued. That was my safe place — and I loved it," she said in a Southern Living conversation with Jenna Bush Hager. "Even in college, when I lived in an apartment in Waco with friends, I longed for home."

Though she clearly loves her kitchen (we mean, who wouldn't?) and her garden, there is another space that Gaines describes as her favorite part of her home — and it's somewhat unexpected. "I love my laundry room," she admitted to Today in 2016. "Just the natural light alone makes me want to settle in and drink my morning coffee there. As a bonus, it helps me dislike laundry day a little less." While some might assume the highlight of the room might be a state-of-the-art machine or some high-end fixture, Gaines said the giant "wash n' fold" sign is the star of the show. 

The Gaines family still lives the house they bought in 2012

Despite the massive net worth, Chip and Joanna Gaines have not felt the need to upgrade their living situation since their fame (and bank account) exploded. As noted in The Hollywood Reporter profile of the couple, the Gaineses still live in the farmhouse that they purchased back in 2012. "I have always dreamed of an old white house on land and it is surreal that this is what I get to come home to every day," she shared in an interview on the HGTV website when "Fixer Upper" was just about to begin. "I love the character of this house and the simple farmhouse style. We have lived in a lot of different homes but there is something about this one that makes me want to stop and stay. Forever."

"Fixer Upper" viewers have seen quite a bit of the home, which was originally built in 1895 and took a year and a half to rejuvenate, as noted in Country Living. The interior is nearly all white, with tons of shiplap, clean lines, and industrial materials. Much of the furniture is wood, and there are plenty of decorative accents throughout the home, but it is also kid friendly. "A few years ago, I realized I was decorating and designing my house around what was beautiful rather than practical for my family. When I made that realization, everything kind of clicked for me," Joanna told Today. "I started being intentional about designing spaces with my kids in mind, rather than picture-perfect rooms." Sounds like a picture-perfect approach.