By Mackenna Cummings
Joanna Gaines is proof that finding the balance between nurturing a healthy, loving family and maintaining a powerful career is not only possible, but well worth it.
Somehow, she makes it all look easy, even though we know it’s not. She refers to herself this way: “Wife. Mom. Renovator. Designer. Shop owner. Homebody.” Most of us know her from her five-year run on the HGTV show Fixer Upper, which wrapped up filming in 2018. The show was an instant hit, and she and her husband, Chip, became household names and virtual friends to millions of Americans who enthusiastically tuned in every week—and who continue to catch daily reruns of the hit show.
These days, fans are also watching her spin-off series, Fixer Upper: Behind the Design. Now in its second season, the series features Joanna giving the stories behind her work bringing details and designs together for her season 5 Fixer Upper clients. She unveils surprises we didn’t see in the original episodes and gives us a peek at never-before-seen renovations. It seems we just can’t get enough of Joanna Gaines.
She’s the author of At Home: A Blog by Joanna Gaines, as well as editor-in-chief of and regular contributor to The Magnolia Journal, her magazine that debuted in fall 2016. She’s also written numerous books on cooking, design and more, the latest of which is We Are Gardeners, a children’s book she coauthored with her children. Last fall, she completed her third collaboration on the charming children’s clothing line, Matilda Jane Clothing with Joanna Gaines. And she lives on a fully operating Texas farm, raising five young children with her husband.
Together, Joanna and Chip own the construction and design company Magnolia Homes, the basis for their hit show; a restaurant, Magnolia Table; a children’s furniture store, Magnolia Kids; Magnolia Realty, which serves various cities across Texas; their magazine, The Magnolia Journal; and the Magnolia Market, located in the renovated Magnolia Silos in Waco (and online at magnolia.com). They also created the popular Hearth and Hand line of home and lifestyle goods, which can be found in Target stores across the country.
The Road Back to TV?
But in one of the most significant entries in Joanna’s planner has to be her recently announced plan to return to television. In November, Joanna and Chip broke the news on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that they are working on a deal to get back on the small screen, and their spokesman John Marsicano confirmed the news to PEOPLE. “We’re excited to share that we are currently in the early stages of talking with Discovery about a lifestyle-focused media network for Magnolia,” Marsicano reported. “The details surrounding this opportunity remain a work in progress, but together, our hope is to build a different kind of platform for unique, inspiring and family-friendly content.” The two aren’t drifting too far from their original television home—Discovery Inc., also owns HGTV, so the new venture would part of the same family of networks.
Living Beyond Dreams
Why are people so hungry for more of Joanna Gaines? Because she’s the real deal—her humility and
gratitude toward all she’s built comes through to her viewers and readers, and audiences connect to her in a way that makes them consider her a friend, not just a celebrity. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does, and it shows. Fans feel her love for her clients, her family, and every one of her business ventures. She’s comforting, calm, in control—and she is proof to other women that they can be, also.
“This entire business idea was born completely out of a dream I didn’t know could ever come to life,” Joanna said on magnolia.com. “It’s truly only because a fiercely faithful, brave, and bold husband pushed me to pursue my dream that it ever came to be.” It’s clear that Joanna and Chip are a team that shares every project, every challenge, and every victory.
Finding the Balance
But really—how does the mom of five manage to do it all? Joanna has, over the years, revealed tips that have helped her triumph as a mother and businesswoman. Some of those tips were assembled by the Money & Career department of the lifestyle website CheatSheet®:
Don’t make being a mother and an entrepreneur separate roles. She finds ways to incorporate her children into her work, taking their suggestions on paint colors and even having them travel with her and her husband on work trips.
Be all in. To find success in both work and family, she says, you have to give everything you have to both. When she’s at work, she is all in, and when she’s home with her family, she’s all in there, too.
Family is first. While her projects get 100 percent of her effort while she’s working on them, she’s adamant that family will always come before business. “The balance thing is hard because at first, that’s what I was trying to do, and I was kind of going crazy because at the end of the day, it’s hard to really balance anything,” she said.
Balance tasks to prevent life becoming all work and no play. Joanna believes her family’s outdoor hobbies bring a great balance to their busy work days. She gardens and raises livestock, and her children are an integral part of these hobbies, allowing the whole family to unwind and bond together.
Know that while being away from your kids is difficult, you’re teaching them by working hard. She’s satisfied with the example she’s setting for her children, teaching them the value of hard work and what it takes to succeed. “I explain that I have to work, just like they have to go to school,” she says.
Know your strengths and delegate duties to others on your team. It’s wise to rely on your support system for help in areas that aren’t your specialty. It relieves stress, even with something as small as accepting that Chip is best at swaddling and rocking their kids to sleep.
When one door closes another one opens. While the Magnolia Market was in fact Joann’s original dream, she was forced, early on, to close her beloved shop so the couple could refocus their goals on their realty company, Magnolia Homes. The success of Magnolia Homes and other enterprises led to the reopening of Magnolia Market on a much larger scale. In the same way, their decision to end their successful show Fixer Upper was reaffirmed when they discovered they were expecting baby number five, and that decision has now allowed them to consider even bigger ventures. Scaling back, changing course, or redefining a dream—it’s all part of the journey for Joanna.
Living With Purpose
Her journey began in Wichita, Kansas, where she was born before moving to Texas with her Korean mother and her Lebanese/German father. As a child, she was bullied for looking different from her classmates, which led first to confusion and then to insecurity. She earned a degree in communications from Baylor University’s Baylor Communication in New York but still wrestled with the doubts and fears that filled her childhood. Approaching her college graduation, she says she “had a revelation” to embrace her strong Christian faith and let it guide her to help other women who may have struggled as she did. “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 told the magazine Darling. She just knew that her own pain would give her the tools to help those women who were hurting, because “I had felt that pain myself.”
From a place of wanting to help others, Joanna Gaines found success beyond her wildest imagination—proof you can choose to do it all and do it all well. Inspiring people to pursue their own dreams is still an important part of her life’s purpose. “The key to everything Chip and I have learned in our life together so far seems to be pretty simple: Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts.”
Look for Professional WOMAN’s Magazine’s spring digital issue, featuring Joanna & Chip Gaines, live on March 15th!