You probably know Joanna Gaines as America’s favorite fixer upper. Along with husband Chip Gaines, Joanna has built a multi-million dollar home renovation and lifestyle empire. The pair first shot to fame in 2013 with the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” which followed the Gaines as they flipped homes in their now-ubiquitous modern farmhouse style. Since the show came to an end in 2018, Joanna and Chip have continued to grow their brand — the pair has released books, opened cafes and restaurants, and launched product lines, not to mention their own streaming network called the Magnolia Network, which features multiple home improvement shows. According to The Sun, the pair share an estimated net worth of $20 million.

It’s hard to imagine that Joanna was ever unsure of her future. Nevertheless, the business mogul and TV star wasn’t always planning on building this kind of an empire. In fact, after growing up feeling uncertain of herself and her abilities, Joanna spent some time working in her dad’s tire shop. Even after she married Chip, the pair had planned on owning just one store. So how did Joanna manage to become one of the best-known television and home decor personalities around? Here is the stunning transformation of Joanna Gaines.

Joanna Gaines was bullied as a child for her mixed ethnicity

Joanna Gaines, the middle child of an American father and Korean mother, was raised in Kansas and, later, Texas. She told Southern Living that she was a bit of a tomboy as a kid — she hung out with the boys and rode her bike around instead of playing with dolls. Her multi-ethnic family faced racism and discrimination when Gaines was young. As she told The Hollywood Reporter, “My mom is so tough, but with one look or comment, I would see her shut down.” Gaines, herself, was also a victim of teasing. She told Darling Magazine that children in her class would tease her because of her ethnicity.

Because Gaines experienced racism and saw her mother’s reaction to racism, she developed a desire to be inclusive. “Growing up as half-Asian, half-Caucasian, I get what that feels like to not be accepted and to not be loved,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s the last thing I want anyone to ever feel.”

And, although it hasn’t always been easy, Gaines couldn’t be prouder of her heritage (via House Beautiful).

Joanna Gaines was incredibly insecure throughout high school

Because Joanna Gaines never felt “good enough” as a child, she developed a crippling shyness that lasted throughout her time in school. The family moved to Texas when she started high school, and Gaines found her social anxiety get even worse. She was in her sophomore year in a much larger school, as she told Darling Magazine. When Gaines walked into the lunch room on her first day, she couldn’t bring herself to sit with anyone. Instead, she ran to the bathroom to hide. She said, “My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected.”

In a 2020 tweet, Gaines looked back on her childhood insecurities and expressed a wish that she could reassure her younger self. “The older I get, the more I realize how much time I spent believing the lie that who I was wasn’t good enough,” she wrote. She went on to explain that she wished she hadn’t wasted her childhood trying to fit in “by trying to be something [she] wasn’t.”

When Joanna Gaines moved to New York during college, she came to this revelation

After growing up feeling insecure for her entire childhood, Joanna Gaines finally realized she had to figure out how she could improve her self-esteem while she was living in New York for her final semester of college. She told Darling Magazine, “For six months I wrestled with my identity and the themes of, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What’s my purpose?'” she said. She decided that she didn’t want to be afraid anymore, so she changed her outlook.

Her revelation made her realize that she wanted to help other women with their insecurities, too. “While I was in New York I really felt like God was telling me that I would be able to help women who weren’t confident, who were looking for guidance or who were lonely,” she said.

Ever since changing her perspective on her own insecurities, as she shared with the magazine, Gaines has made it her mission to help others. To this day, she keeps an eye out for people who look out of place or unhappy and tries to help them learn their own value, just as she did.

Joanna Gaines met future-husband Chip while working at her father's shop

Meeting Chip Gaines in 2001 was one of the most pivotal moments in Joanna Gaines’ life. As she recalled to Today, Joanna had been working at her father’s auto shop for almost a decade when Chip happened to come in as a customer one day. At the time, Chip owned multiple businesses, and Joanna had plans to take over her father’s store. However, once the pair met, their plans changed.

By the end of their first date, Joanna knew that Chip might be the right man for her. “I just love that he knew how to draw me out, I’m more introverted,” she said. And, he expressed a wish to stay in their hometown of Waco, Texas, which was another plus for Joanna.

In the end, they proved to be perfect for each other, both as romantic partners and business partners. As Joanna said in a video for Baylor University, “He knew that I had this whole thing of businesses that I wanted to start, but he also knew I was never going to just take the risk and start them … and he really encouraged me to step out and make one of those dreams happen.”

After Joanna Gaines married Chip, the couple completed their first fixer-upper

Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines married in 2003. Soon after, they embarked upon their very-first fixer-upper project. As Joanna told Today, Chip had started flipping houses while they were dating. “Our first fixer upper together, we really learned how to work together,” she said. “I learned what not to do from a design standpoint.” Apparently, Chip would go a bit overboard when it came to creating themed rooms — according to Joanna, one little house had six different themes throughout! 

Of course, despite the mistakes they made, Joanna realized that she enjoyed interior design. The couple continued buying, renovating, and selling houses in the years that followed. As Joanna explained, this helped her to learn about creating beautiful homes on a small budget — which eventually became the basis for a whole career.

Even if this house wasn’t their most successful fixer upper, the couple still has fond memories of it. As Joanna wrote on Instagram in 2015, “To this day, if you ask us what our favorite house we ever lived in [was] we both go back to this little white 800 sq ft home.”

Joanna Gaines, along with husband Chip, opened their shop Magnolia in 2003

It’s clear that Joanna Gaines caught the interior design bug after the first fixer upper she worked on with husband Chip Gaines during their first year of marriage. That same year, they opened their very-first shop in Waco, Texas — called Magnolia. The store helped Joanna to improve her confidence and skills in design. “In that store, I developed and sharpened my design style and skills, grew as a business owner, and gained much needed confidence in Magnolia Market and myself” (via House Beautiful).

Joanna explained to Today that she would often be the only person working in the store, and she had to help customers with home design advice. “I would literally have no idea,” she confessed. “And so I would start making stuff up.” It turns out, her advice was actually pretty good. This helped Joanna build her confidence and develop her own sense of style.

Joanna and Chip Gaines have five children together

Shortly after beginning their business, Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines also started their family. As the couple told The Hollywood Reporter, their first four children, Drake, Ella, Duke, and Emmie, were born fairly quickly. Then, in 2018, they had a fifth child, Crew.

Becoming a mother was, understandably, a life-changing experience for Joanna. For one thing, it meant changing her priorities. As she said in a video for Baylor University, “I really felt like God was saying, ‘I want you home, I want you raising these babies at home at this age.'” So, she took a step back from her business and focused on parenthood. And she has always kept the same attitude of family first, job second. As she told Southern Living, “Being a mom is at the core of who I am. It’s my top priority.”

In terms of raising her kids, Joanna took inspiration from her own parents. She learned from her mother, for instance, that keeping the house tidy made things feel “orderly,” as she told Southern Living. Joanna also copied her mother’s idea of having a private room in the house to take some time alone — and, with such a big family, we can’t blame her.

Joanna and Chip Gaines shot to fame after starring on Fixer Upper

Everything changed for Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines when HGTV developed their now-famous reality show, “Fixer Upper.” HGTV approached the couple and happened to capture an argument about a houseboat, which ultimately won them their show. As Joanna told The Wall Street Journal, it was her response to her husband’s rash decision to buy a houseboat that caught the network’s attention. After becoming angry, she started drawing up ideas of how they could transform it. The next thing they knew, they were international stars. According to The Wrap, their show drew in over four million viewers, making it the most-popular home renovation show on HGTV.

The couple don’t even own a television, so they were completely unprepared for the level of stardom the show brought. “I don’t think we ever knew it was going to be this national thing,” Joanna told Today. “Never would we have thought it would be anywhere close to this,” she went on.

In 2017, Joanna and Chip Gaines took a break from TV

Despite the huge success of “Fixer Upper,” Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines decided to end the show after the sixth season. They eventually came back to TV with their own network, but, as Joanna told Oprah in an interview on OWN, “When you’re filming for four or five years, you begin to lose the ‘why.’ … We just lost steam — we lost the purpose in it.” Her husband went on to explain that he and Joanna both agreed that a 12-month hiatus was what they needed.

Another reason for taking a break was that the couple wanted to focus on family. As Chip explained to People, the children were beginning to become negatively affected by the pressures of reality TV. Apparently, they started to ask why their parents were never at home. It sounds like this couple definitely made a smart decision.

In 2019, Chip and Joanna Gaines began work on a hotel in Waco

After taking a break from TV, Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines took on a new type of business venture — a hotel in their local town of Waco, Texas. As Joanna told Today, the couple purchased a huge old building that was once a shrine and transformed it completely. However, Joanna had been hesitant to take on the huge project at first. “I really was like, ‘It scares me,'” she recalled. Chip finally convinced her to take the leap by bringing her up to the ballroom. Afterward, “I could see it, I could see its history,” she said.

In a press release, the couple announced that they would be partnering with Adventurous Journeys to build the hotel, with plans to open in 2021. “Home is a feeling, created by and for the people you love and share your life with,” the couple said. “That is our dream for this hotel — that it would serve as an extension of the way we feel about our own home and all it represents to us.” Knowing this couple, it’s safe to say that they’ll pull off this big project and create something truly special.

With time, Joanna Gaines changed her perspective on beauty

In 2018, Joanna Gaines spoke to Darling Magazine about how her understanding of beauty had shifted as she aged. “As I am getting older the idea of beauty is very different for me,” she said. “Yes, I am getting gray hairs and wrinkles, but I feel more beautiful now because I know I have a great purpose.” For Gaines, having a purpose of taking care of her family and bringing joy to her clients makes her feel beautiful from the inside out. By taking care of her kids, her husband, and her home, she feels more beautiful than when she obsesses over her looks.

When she was younger, Gaines thought that beauty was completely superficial — and she didn’t always feel beautiful herself. However, with age, she has begun to appreciate other types of beauty in the world — “a delicate rose in the garden or the tender touch of a child,” as she put it. It sounds like she has learned a lot about the meaning of beauty. As she said, “If I could tell the younger generation something it would be to start from within.”

A simple moment with her father became a 'turning point' for Joanna Gaines

With multiple successful businesses and ongoing TV ventures, Joanna Gaines is always on the go. As she explained in an issue of Magnolia Journal in 2021 (via People), one simple moment helped her to recognize the importance of slowing down and appreciating the simple things in life. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gaines had been having dinner with her family at her father’s house one day. When he asked if she wanted to watch the sunset with him, she felt that she was too busy and that she had to put the kids to bed.

After lockdown set in, she realized that there wouldn’t always be another chance and that she had to start appreciating these moments when they came. “It didn’t take me long to regret that moment,” she wrote. When she finally got to watch the sun set with her father, she had a revelation. “No longer would I measure my life based on what I achieved in a week, a day, or an hour. Now, it is time spent in moments like the one I shared with my dad that I hope define my lifetime,” she wrote. Think about that: This one little moment gave her a whole new outlook on life.

Joanna Gaines feels that God has spoken to her throughout her life at pivotal moments

Joanna Gaines believes that God has spoken to her at pivotal moments throughout her life and helped her to make the right choices. In a video for Baylor University, Gaines recalled several key moments when this occurred. As a child, she once heard God say, “Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.” At the time, she didn’t even understand. The next time she heard God was when she made the decision to step back from her shop, Magnolia, to raise her children. He made her a promise that if she stepped back, she’d eventually come back stronger than ever.

Then, she heard God’s voice again just after starting “Fixer Upper.” Apparently, he told her it was time for her to reopen Magnolia. So she did, and the store became hugely successful. “I can look back now on the pattern of my life and really believe God has a purpose for me,” she said.

Joanna and Chip Gaines announced a massive new project, originally slated for 2020

Despite all of her success, Joanna Gaines is only just getting started. In 2018, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” she and husband Chip Gaines announced their plans to launch their own TV network of home and lifestyle content called the Magnolia Network. As Joanna told Fast Company, the plan was to fill the network with real-life inspirational people like themselves. “It’s what they’re doing in real life that drew us to their story,” she said. The couple has picked people much like themselves — people who are passionate, unpretentious, natural, and, of course, inspiring. Chip said, “The fact that we have people [on the network] who see things from different perspectives, or have lifestyles that are different from our own, is going to make the overall experience much richer and much better.”

Initially slated for 2020, the launch was pushed back to 2021, per USA Today, and then again for 2022 (via People). However, the app is set to launch in 2021, with plenty of Magnolia Network shows, recipes, articles, and more available to fans. One thing’s for sure — Joanna Gaines’ empire certainly hasn’t stopped growing yet.

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