The Surprising Thing Chip Gaines Did Before Fixing Up Homes

Before Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines were still flipping homes and running their Magnolia Market. However, that’s now where the duo got their start. In fact, Chip’s first business was less about fixing up and more about making up.

Curious to know more? We unveil what Chip Gaines did before his fixer upper business and HGTV show, ahead.

1. Humble beginnings

Chip Gaines Young

Chip always preferred manual labor. | Chip Gaines via Instagram

Although he attended Baylor University for business and played baseball on the university’s team, Chip’s remained humble in his early career. “Here I was at this prestigious school playing baseball and studying business,” he wrote in The Magnolia Story. “But, instead of daydreaming about the major leagues or running some Fortune 500 company, I found myself in class looking out the window at the guys mowing grass and wishing I could trade places with them.”

Next: Chip and Joanna’s dreams didn’t line up.

2. Chip and Joanna had different entrepreneur goals in college

Joanna and-Chip Gaines young

Joanna was ready to move to New York. | Joanna Gaines via Instagram

While Joanna had big plans to move to New York and pursue her entrepreneur dreams, Chip’s dreams were a bit closer to home — and more relatable to his college lifestyle.

Next: Chip’s first business venture dubbed him a ‘mom away from home’ for college students.

3. The Baylor Wash ‘N Fold

Laundromat for doing laundry

His instinct was a good one. | Srongkrod/iStock/Getty Images

So, what did Chip Gaines do before fixing up homes? He and his friends started a laundry service called The Baylor Wash ‘N Fold. “The idea was, ‘who hates laundry more than college kids?’ No one,” Gaines wrote in a Magnolia Market blog post. “So, we came up with the idea to be these kids’ ‘mom away from home,’” he added.

Next: Chip still had other priorities.

4. Chip and his friends built the business while still in college

Chip Gaines high school

He managed to wrangle college and his business. | Joanna Gaines via Instagram

The Baylor Wash ‘N Fold was actually started while Chip and his friends were still in college — which inspired their customer base. “Me and two of my buddies came up with the idea toward the end of our time at Baylor,” he wrote on the Magnolia Market blog. “Our location was close to Baylor’s campus,” he added. “It was next to a pretty popular little restaurant and we had a fairly solid customer base!”

Next: The business plan wasn’t what you’d expect

5. The business plan was drawn up on a napkin

Chip Gaines on HGTV's 'Fixer Upper'

It all started with a napkin. | HGTV

One thing that stands out about Chip Gaines is his humbleness and easy-going personality. And that shined through as he worked out the business details for The Baylor Wash ‘N Fold with his friends. Like many other humble beginnings, the three of them drew up their business plan on a napkin!

Next: Their laundry service wasn’t all that cheap for college kids.

6. How it worked


They had a pretty good system worked out. | iStock/Getty Images

How do you start a laundry service for college kids? It’s actually quite simple. “The way it worked was you paid an entry price of about $150, and that allotted you a certain number of pounds of laundry,” writes Gaines. “We gave out these duffel bags, and you’d bring your dirty laundry in it and we’d weigh it, wash it and fold it for you! You’d come back to pick it up the next day,” he added.

Next: Surprisingly, the business didn’t interfere with their schoolwork

7. How they managed to do laundry and finish school

They took turns doing the work. | Chip Gaines via Instagram

Since both require an immense amount of dedication, starting a business while still in school can be tricky. However, Chip and his friends figure out a way to make it work. “The three of us all took turns doing the washing, so it worked out pretty well with all of our school schedules,” he wrote on Magnolia Market’s blog.

Next: The sweet way Joanna paid homage to Chip’s first business

8. Chip and Joanna Gaines’ farmhouse laundry room mural

Farmhouse laundry room

The laundry room is an ode to his old business. | Magnolia Market

In remembrance of Chip’s first business, Joanna thought it would be nice to pay homage to The Baylor Wash ‘N Fold in their farmhouse laundry room. “BMC Wash ‘N Fold was Chip’s business when we were dating. I love that this is a part of his past, so I had an artist paint it on the brick to surprise Chip,” wrote Joanna in a Magnolia Market blog post.

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