Chipstarter contest

We made these panels for a “reverse reveal” to show our vision for the farm property.

I was riding shotgun in the car with my husband, when I came across an email from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market describing the  #CHIPSTARTER contest to promote Chip’s new book, Capital Gaines. The Texas couple is famous for their home renovation TV show Fixer Upper, which seamlessly blends family values and talented, but hard work.

This inspirational couple was looking for people who also want to dream big, whether that be starting a new business or accomplishing a bucket list item. The contest was asking for 2-minute video submissions explaining the dream, and in under 2 weeks they would be flying out finalists to Waco to announce the winners. As I explained the contest to my husband, we knew it was just the kind of long shot opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

We’ve long felt a connection to Chip & Jo, which for me was strengthened after I read their book, The Magnolia Story. My husband sent me a copy to read while I was overseas. Joanna and I are both Texas girls who focused on broadcast journalism in college. Her big internship was in New York, and mine was in Dallas. We both eventually came to the same decision not to pursue mass media as a longterm career.

There are a lot of similarities between my husband and Chip as well. They’re both goofy and fun-loving risk takers with a knack for construction. I, like Jo, have to wonder if at any time my husband is going to show up with another animal or 2 for the farm. But at the end of the day, despite whatever uncertainty or chaotic projects we’ve gotten ourselves into, I know without a doubt that he has our best interests in mind and loves with his whole heart.

We wanted to convey this sense of kindred spirits and our dream for the farm property in the short 2 minutes we had to pitch our idea. If you watch the show, you’ll see the couple normally stands with these large billboards depicting the “before” picture of a property they have renovated. They stand on either side of the pictures and pull them apart to reveal the reality of the home standing behind them completely finished.

We had the idea to do sort of a reverse reveal, showing the empty portion of the field and then bringing together the pictures to show visually what we hoped would be there one day. One of the main reasons we bought this farm property was this vision of seeing couples getting married in a field with the smell of lavender, cherry trees in full bloom, all framed by mountains in the distance. We want to be part of creating some of the happiest memories of a couple’s start together.

We also decided to turn the video into our pregnancy announcement, since we were going to share it with friends and family. In one weekend we used a camera to shoot all the video, I edited the footage on my computer, and we submitted it with much anticipation.

For about a week we speculated what it would be like to get that notification–just to be selected as a finalist meant getting to fly to Waco and express our gratitude for being considered. We got a lot of great feedback from friends, and of course our families were over the moon with the baby announcement.

Ultimately, we were not picked as finalists. I think our dream was one of the more expensive entries, when you consider some people wanted to climb a mountain or take a photography class to achieve their goals. Although it was sad not to be chosen, we didn’t feel entitled to anything. Now we have this visual depiction of the future wedding venue, which had previously been stored in our minds, and that feels like one step closer.

If you’re interested, the six winners of the contest are featured at



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