This story originally appeared on PEOPLE

Since Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ HGTV series Fixer Upper premiered in 2013, it seems nearly everything that the couple has touched has turned to gold. Still, their road to fame — and a home improvement fortune — hasn't been as simple as it appears.

"Nothing has come easy," Chip says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. "We've worked so hard to have this beautiful family and this farm — it really does seem like the American dream you heard about growing up."


When the couple first met in 2001, they famously lived off a wad of cash that Chip kept in his pocket while flipping homes together. But after years of scraping by, they finally hit it big after the premiere of their reality series.

After just four seasons, it's now one of the highest-rated in the network's history.

They also manage a growing portfolio of businesses that includes retail compound Magnolia Market at the Silos (which draws up to 40,000 visitors every week), plus paint, rug, wallpaper and furniture lines, a real estate company, plus a quarterly magazine, a luxury vacation rental, a soon-to-open restaurant and a New York Times best-selling book with a second in the works, Capital Gaines: Smart Stuff I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff.

Even amid all their success, the couple's top priorities are their marriage and four children: Drake, 12, Ella, 10, Duke, 9, and Emmie, 7.

"Jo and I both made a commitment pretty early on that the two of us are the most important variable," says Chip. "If we can figure out how to be right as a couple, then obviously we a have a lot better opportunity to be right for our kids."

  • For more on Chip and Joanna Gaines, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

But that doesn't mean they can't continue to expand their business.

"I think comfortable for us can be a little dangerous," says Joanna. "The second Chip gets content, he gets really restless. It's not about, ‘Let's get here and then we'll be happy.' We like the idea of having to wrestle a little bit and figure things out. That's where we thrive the most."

This Story Originally Appeared On People