Phillips House Co.
High Street Homes
For a short time, it looked like Brett and Kara Phillips were poised to become the next Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s hit home renovation show, Fixer Upper.
The Phillips had all the makings of cable TV stardom, including all-American good looks, sparkling personalities and a successful multi-platform business incorporating homebuilding, real estate sales, remodeling and an ecommerce home goods retail store to help pull it all together.
The comparisons were hard to miss and it didn’t take long after the Gaines’ called it quits with Fixer Upper that TV producers started calling.
The couple even shot a pilot for HGTV called Home to Last, a home renovation show aimed at turning older houses into spectacular family homes.
Unfortunately, the Magnolia dreams didn’t last beyond the one episode. More than anything, it was probably a victim of bad timing, Brett Phillips said.
“It was fun and we are very grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s nice to feel like it’s out there.”
But it’s hardly a setback for the young couple who have their hands full with three young children and growing their real estate business. And they still have plenty of fans, with more than 14,700 followers on Instagram alone.
“All along our goal has been to create a business that we are proud of and serves the community well,” said Kara Phillips. “But we ‘never say never’ if another television opportunity comes along.
The Phillips’ are seasoned experts when it comes to seizing opportunities. It’s how they launched their first business, High Street Homes, in 2012.
The business was not on their radar when they began their lives together. But like the factors that brought them together, they have been tinged by serendipity and share a passion for creativity.
Brett Phillips, now 35, grew up in California and Kara Phillips grew up in Aledo. It just so happened that Brett’s two best friends met and married two girls from Aledo. He and Kara met at one of the weddings in Fort Worth in 2009.
“So we were three California boys who married three girls from Aledo,” he said.
With a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in organizational leadership, Brett was positioned for a career in higher education.
But it was Kara who made the first move: to California, where she took a sales job.
“I fell madly in love,” she said.
A year after their meeting, the two were married and moved back to Texas.
After returning from their honeymoon, Brett began a job in the Neeley School of Business Entrepreneurial Leadership Program at Texas Christian University.
Kara, 32, who earned her degree in finance with a focus in real estate, went to work at Walsh Holdings. She also earned her real estate license.
The couple lived with her parents for the first year of married life. By 2011, they were ready to move into a home of their own.
Kara’s father, J.C. Williams, a former Fort Worth police lieutenant and retired assistant chief of police at TCU, had dabbled in land development for years and helped the couple find the perfect piece of land to build a home.
“We didn’t have a lot of money so we stayed with my parents and saved every dime,” Kara said.
The couple built and moved into their first home in 2011 but didn’t stay long.
After five months, they sold it and moved back in with her parents. They invested the profit from the sale to build a speculative home and that’s how High Street Homes got started.
The two developed their own sense of style, which is a blend of California and Southern influences – just like their marriage. Brett loves open, airy spaces while Kara is partial to antiques and heirlooms.
About the time they started High Street Homes, Pinterest became a go-to site for home building and decorating ideas, which provided even more inspiration for their brand of design. They were also inspired by the beautiful homes in Fort Worth’s established neighborhoods.
The couple hadn’t quite completed their spec home when they decided to put it on the market to see if it would get any interest.
“Within three days we had three offers, including one full-price cash offer,” Kara said.
It was that house that really launched the couple’s success. Soon, they had other clients seeking them out to build or renovate homes.
It also helped them take their niche business to the next level, adding real estate sales in 2014 and remodeling and interior design in 2015. Their latest venture, an online home goods store called Phillips House Co. (phillipshouseco.com), adds yet another layer to their operations.
One of their most noteworthy projects was the renovation of a 1914 foursquare home in the Fairmount neighborhood. It was the project that captured the attention of television producers RTR Media and 547Barnard, the companies behind several successful home renovations shows, including Fixer Upper, Home Town and Hidden Potential and Property Brothers.
With their two businesses, the pair can offer turn-key service to their clients who want to create the perfect family space.
“They really know how to make things work within a space,” said Bree Perez, a friend and client who had the couple renovate her Fort Worth area home.
Not only does she appreciate the couple’s sense of style and attention to detail but also their dedication to doing business with locally-owned stores and vendors.
As for themselves, the couple and their three young sons – ages 5, 3 and 1 – are living in what could be their forever home that they moved into last year.
But maybe not.
“We might be selling,” Kara said. “We still talk about it daily.”
With more than 14,700 followers on Instagram alone, it won’t be hard to find a buyer.
For this couple who has moved nine times since launching High Street Homes, moving is no longer about the money as it was in the beginning when they sold their homes to raise money for the next project.
“Now it’s about the creativity and the pursuit of creating the perfect timeless home,” she said.