Chip Gaines Recalls Ill-Fated Mexico Trip That Had Joanna Threatening, 'You Have Three Days to Get Back to Texas, or This Relationship Is Over'
"I had unintentionally put Jo in a terrible spot," he recalls in a chapter released from his forthcoming book
In a sneak peek of the third chapter, available to download on the couple’s Magnolia website, the star of HGTV’s Fixer Upper recalls one adventure he went on in his mid-twenties that included a brief trip to Mexico and a very unamused Joanna.
“I was knee-deep in three different businesses, and I’d been working with the same group of Mexican guys on all of them,” Chip says in the excerpt. “These were my boys, and something about their culture and work ethic really resonated with me.”
Chip was aware of the language barrier between he and his “close-knit crew,” and decided to pursue a three-month long Spanish immersion program in Mexico to remedy it. With support from Joanna, then his girlfriend, who agreed to take lead on his landscaping, laundry and house rental businesses, he and his dog Shiner embarked on their adventure.
“This may be a good time to fill you in on how I kept up with my finances back then,” he says. “I was pretty much self-taught in all my operating procedures as a business owner.”
Because Joanna wasn’t up-to-speed with his unconventional financial processes, things quickly got out of hand.
“Although her talent for bookkeeping was unmatched,” Chip says of his wife, referring to her then full-time job at her dad’s tire shop, “I had sorely underprepared her for the events that were about to unfold.”
WATCH THIS: HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines on Their 14 Year Marriage
Trying to track down tenants for their rent checks was challenging enough, but things took a turn for the worse when Chip’s clients started flooding Joanna’s dad’s Firestone shop — “Though he’s Jerry to me now, this story still scares me so much that I’d like to revert to calling him Mr. Stevens,” he notes — revealing to both her and her father that his practices were far from perfect.
“She was finally coming to understand that the inner workings on my businesses weren’t all they were cracked up to be,” he reveals. Quick-thinking Joanna called his parents for help, though, and together they were able to find a temporary fix. But Chip wasn’t completely off the hook
“I was about two weeks into class when I aced my first test,” he says. “I was all excited to find the nearest pay phone and call Jo to tell her about my first A. But when Jo answered the phone, she was already shouting.”
He continues, “’Your business is a joke!’ she yelled. ‘All these people are coming to my dad’s shop demanding to be paid, and there’s no money! Lucky for you, your dad is bailing your sorry butt out. You have three days to get back to Texas, or this relationship is over.’”
Realizing his future was on the line, Chip raced home to rectify the situation. Luckily, Joanna and her parents were forgiving upon seeing “the pitiful look” on his face.
“I had unintentionally put Jo in a terrible spot,” he says. “No language acquisition or dream trip was worth that. It became my mission to prove to Jo, my parents, her parents and myself that I could do this — that I was the real deal and I wouldn’t stop until I made this entrepreneurial dream of mine a reality.”
Safe to say, Gaines achieved his goal and then some. For the full account of his “misguided” Mexico experience, download the full chapter here.