HGTV star Chip Gaines started thinking about leaving hit show “Fixer Upper” after a tweet.
In his upcoming book, “Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff,” the DIY entrepreneur remembers getting a tweet from a customer at 2 a.m. that, in his words, “changed everything.”
“Hey @chippergaines,” the customer wrote. “It’s been 3 weeks, and I still haven’t gotten my wreath. What’s up?!”
“I tried to shake it off, knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it then and that it would have to wait until morning,” Gaines writes in “Capital Gaines.” “No luck. I was up all night dwelling on it.”
Midway through the next day, while on the set of “Fixer Upper” with his wife and business partner Joanna, Gaines was “overwhelmed” by a single thought: “What am I doing here?”
He wanted to walk off the set, head to the warehouse, and resolve the shipping problem. “Who else but me should be figuring out what was ailing my growing business, and who else other than me should be ensuring that we moved beyond each and every one of these mistakes?” he writes.
In that moment, he writes, “something shifted within me. Suddenly filming the TV show looked like ‘the job’ that had seduced me into giving it my precious time that I had always promised would be reserved for my true loves, my family and my business. How had this side gig found its way to competing with the very things that mean more to me than anything else in the world?”
The Gaineses realized that they were stretched too thin. Between the two of them, they estimate they can do two things well at a time, but in recent years they were juggling three: their home life with four children, their business, and their TV show.
“These major responsibilities affect my ability to sleep, and they steal from my peace of mind,” Gaines writes. “Each is important. Each is worthwhile. And each is something that that can’t succeed without Joanna’s and my personal involvement.”
fixer upper chip joanna gaines
Chip and Joanna Gaines. HGTV
Fans of the HGTV show might not realize that Magnolia, the Gaineses’ business, predates “Fixer Upper” by over a decade. For years, the couple has been buying and flipping investment properties, renovating local homes in Waco, Texas, and operating home decor stores in the area.
The latest iteration of their business is Magnolia Market, the home-improvement hub they created in 2015 from two abandoned grain silos across the street from their children’s school, which attracts visitors from all over the US. They also bought a restaurant in downtown Waco and partnered with Target to produce a line of exclusive home goods. Joanna collaborated with HGTV to produce a web series, “Behind the Design.”
“These past several years have been such a mind-blowing season of life for us,” Gaines writes. “They have also been a very real struggle. I’ve been in this lengthy internal wrestling match, trying to understand and prioritize these three main priorities while also fending off all the other big things that compete for my time. Who deserves the best of me? Which ones get the bulk of my passion and energy? And which, in turn, gets what amounts to my leftovers?”
Their marriage and children automatically take first place, he writes, and while he “dream[s] of the day Jo and I are chairmen of the board and not actually involved in the day-to-day operations” of their business, they are both still needed on the ground.
“It was really easy for us to feel like we could do it all when the show and the business were in the early stages,” writes Gaines. “But the bigger things got — and they got big fast— the less energy we had to devote to all three. So much time was being allocated to filming that the details of the business were slipping.”
The “tweet-fueled revelation,” Gaines writes, made him realize that he and Joanna are tired. He continues on to say that their relationship and business partnership is stronger than ever, “but pure long-term exhaustion can change a person — or two persons. We had been driving so hard for so long now. And I had this sense that if I kept my foot on the gas, we might be headed for disaster.”