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Joanna Gaines is synonymous these days with white shiplap and a multi-million-dollar design business. But her story didn’t start that way. She began as an awkward kid in school, trying to find her place. But the support system she cultivated over the years has played a pivotal role in her life. 

Even more than that, Gaines credits her lifelong faith in God as playing a significant part in the success of the many phases of the Magnolia brand she runs with her husband, Chip

Joanna Gaines believed she would have a platform from an early age

Joanna Gaines
Joanna Gaines discusses new book, “Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff” at Build Studio on October 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

In a 2015 video Gaines recorded for a community-wide Palm Sunday service at her alma mater, Baylor University, the HGTV star recounted her faith’s role in her formative years during school. She explained how that shaped the decisions she’d make later to launch the Magnolia business. 

“I remember in those times I heard him [God] specifically say, ‘Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.’ I remember thinking, ‘What does that even mean?'” Gaines described in the video on Baylor University YouTube page. 

After finishing her college years at Baylor, Gaines recounts meeting this “handsome, rugged cowboy” — Chip Gaines. The pair married in 2003. Joanna said Chip encouraged her to act on some of the many dreams she had for design and other passions. “He really encouraged me to step out and make one of those dreams happen,” Gaines recalls of the role her husband played in encouraging the first iteration of Magnolia. “And we opened Magnolia Market together, and I loved it.”

Gaines says God has guided the business decisions in her family

Joanna Gaines goes into more detail about running Magnolia’s “Little Shop on Bosque” in the couple’s book, The Magnolia Story. She had it felt like one step forward, two steps back toward accomplishing her dreams. Though the couple enjoyed running the shop, Joanna felt that God was calling her to step away from it for some time when her first two children were young. 

“I heard God say very clearly…Joanna, if you trust me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia further than you could have ever dreamed, so just trust me,” she said in the video. “I remember hearing that and feeling completely peaceful about it, and I walked away.”

A few years later, the couple was contacted by a production company to film a short promo that detailed the home-flipping business they’d been working on together. The rest is Fixer Upper history. 

Joanna and Chip Gaines turned their Magnolia business into a design and media empire


Joanna Gaines’ New Magnolia Show With Her Sister: It’s ‘the Business of Her Dreams’

Now, Joanna Gaines is known worldwide for her chic farmhouse design aesthetic. And her family has made their hometown of Waco, Texas, a must-stop destination. Fixer Upper ran for five seasons on HGTV before the couple moved on to other ventures, including renovating an expansive property called the Silos. The venue is home to a restaurant, a bakery, shops showcasing small-business wares, and more. Of course, it also includes a flagship store that allows customers to select their own decor to take home — much larger than the original shop on Bosque. (Gaines has since reopened that space, too.) 

Magnolia is still in the home-flipping business. The Gaines’ latest ventures include launching the Magnolia Network in partnership with Discovery, featuring some of those projects on the cable channel. The duo has also published several books and cookbooks and oversees Magnolia Journal. 

Even back in 2015, Gaines credited God for the success she and Chip have had in recent years, particularly for not allowing her to become afraid of failure. “Let God speak into your life,” Gaines summarized. “I think that’s the key: Not believing the lies, fixing our eyes on Jesus, and walking in that truth.”