For sisters Aimee and Jolie Sikes, it all began with a patch of green shag carpet.
Find the Junk Gypsies at gypsyville.com and visit their storefront at 1215 State Highway 237 in Round Top.
As preteens in East Texas, they plucked the relic from a pile of discarded furniture and repurposed it in their tree house. Now the duo, popularly known as the Junk Gypsies, have made a very successful pursuit out of turning other people’s trash into treasure, or “junking.” The sisters’ brand includes the Junk Gypsy Company retail store in Round Top, a self-titled book, merchandise ranging from fringed cowgirl boots to ruffled bedding, and a TV show.
The Junk Gypsies got their start in 1998 when Aimee and her mother, Janie, a flea market devotee, set up a booth at Canton’s First Monday Trade Days to sell stuff they had collected from across Texas. Younger sister Jolie joined them two years later. Cultivating a rebellious, wild-hearted cowgirl aesthetic, the Junk Gypsies caught the eye of country star Miranda Lambert, who called on the sisters to “junkify” her tour bus and decorate her 2011 wedding to Blake Shelton.
The Sikes’ national profile exploded in 2012 with the premier of Junk Gypsies, which ran for one season on HGTV and two more on sister network Great American Country. The sisters’ pleasant drawls, feisty spirits, and crafty skills won the hearts of home improvement enthusiasts and propelled them to more projects, both on-camera and off. They currently star in two digital series: one on HGTV.com called That Junk Gypsy Life and one on Facebook called The Find & The Fix.
This year, the Junk Gypsies—a family business incorporating three generations of Sikes—are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the opening of the Wander Inn, located behind the Junk Gypsy Company store in Round Top. The bed and breakfast’s two ranch-style properties exude Junk Gypsy style, complete with neon lighting, vintage signage, and Americana flair. With only eight rooms, the inn is sure to book up early during the world-renowned Original Round Top Antiques Fair, held annually in April and October.
Q: You two have been settled in Round Top for seven years now. What made you want to call the town home?
A: Jolie: It was already like a home away from home, but we really love it here. The land and the countryside and the hillside.
Aimee: And the people. Because of the antiques scene here, people are constantly in town from all over the world.
Q: The Round Top Antiques Fair seems to have grown into an international phenomenon in recent years.
A: Aimee: I think the antiques show has always been fun, but I think now it’s infinitely more fun, and people aren’t coming here just for antiques. They’re coming here for a soul vacation. They’re coming here to be a part of this kindred spirit feeling. It’s like the Woodstock of antiques.
Q: What would you recommend for a newcomer to Round Top?
A: Aimee: Go to Round Top Mercantile Company and order sandwiches.
Jolie: It’s like Subway, but better.
Aimee: Yeah. Get a sack lunch and go drive around on the back roads and just cruise. There are so many amazing farmhouses out here. And then go to Festival Hill, explore that whole area. Come here in the off-season to shop a little bit, eat some good food, like at Royers [Round Top Café], and just slow down on the back roads. Come visit us, hang out here.
Q: Where’s your favorite place to travel in Texas?
A:Aimee: We stop as much as we can in Kilgore at the East Texas Oil Museum.
Jolie: Oh my gosh, that’s our favorite. I think for one, that’s home. We grew up in Overton, which is 12 miles from Kilgore.
Aimee: You are in this museum part, then you open these old-timey looking doors and you literally walk into…
Jolie: … the oil boom of the 1930s. It’s a road with old cars with their tires stuck in the mud.
Aimee: And they have stuffed horses and donkeys pulling the wagons. It’s a little eerie, but it’s the coolest.
Q: What’s your favorite part about flea markets?
A: Jolie: The dealers have such diverse backgrounds—former lawyers, former doctors, former CPAs, former convicts. We have ex-cons who are our junker friends. Everybody has really fascinating and interesting back-stories, and they all chose this, which is what’s really great. Everybody has this common love, and everybody is happy because they chose to be here. So it’s a really cool environment. And the evenings are so fun because there’s Texas music, there’s beer, there’s good food, and everybody’s milling around the flea market with little lights everywhere.
Q: What are your favorite memories of traveling around the state?
A: Aimee: We don’t quite as much now, but we used to stop at every dive bar, like Devil’s Backbone Tavern [in Fischer]—that place is amazing—and every little diner and quirky little spot. That was kind of our thing, stopping in all those places. The road does this to you—you just get so flexible. You may or may not make it there that night. You just have to be open to that. You have to be open to the road, the universe of the road.
Q: Growing up, you worked at your parents’ pizza restaurant—what business lessons did you learn from them?
A: Aimee: They treated people so good and were super hard workers. They would take us out of school sometimes and take us on a road trip. And it might just be going to New Braunfels, or going to Dallas to go to the museum, or going to Canton to the flea market.
It wasn’t really about making money. It was about making a good life.
Q: How do you explain your success?
A: Jolie: I think it’s a combination of hard work and always sticking true and firm to our beliefs. The ultimate goal was to be with our families, to work together with our kids.
Aimee: We always feel like Junk Gypsy evolved into its own being, and we’re just running behind, trying to catch up all the time. We could never sell the soul of Junk Gypsy. We held onto that, and for some reason,
people keep liking what we do, and we’re thankful.