Indy Home-Rehabbers Debut HGTV Show Tonight

How Two Chicks and a Hammer went from fixing up houses in Fountain Square to finding a home on the cable giant.
Fountain Square will take center stage on a new HGTV show debuting tonight at 11 p.m. Two Chicks and a Hammer stars a mother-daughter team by the same name whose 20-some home rehabs have made an impact on the changing neighborhood where they both live. Karen Laine, an attorney, and her daughter, Mina Starsiak, sat down to give us the inside scoop on their booming business.


What inspired you to get into the house-rehabilitation business?

Mina: I guess when I was graduating from IU, lots of my friends were getting big-kid jobs, and my grown-up thing was buying a house. Mom co-signed with me, and we bought a house and renovated the whole thing. It was a huge project. We tore it down to the studs, did the flooring, tile, cabinets. Literally watched YouTube videos. The practice house was my house, and we had a lot of fun, with minimal injuries.

Karen: My office is in Fountain Square, so that is what brought us there. When we did our third house on Woodlawn, we realized that it was a business. Mina came up with the name.


How did you land a spot on HGTV?

Mina: By accident.

Karen: A talent scout ran across us. Mina thought someone was trying to scam us. We did a Skype interview, had to get background checks, and went through social-media checks. We filmed a couple of weeks with a Flip-cam. They have a first-look agreement, and HGTV said to make a pilot. We made it last fall, and they accepted it.


Does filming for television alter your normal routine?

Mina: Mom is still a lawyer, and up until last fall I was waiting tables, so our pace was about three houses a year. For TV, everything happens a lot faster. That was the biggest challenge. Demo day was hilarious. The camera guys were very nervous about their equipment because there was stuff flying all over the place.

Karen: For TV, there are certain things people want to see that we would not do in a normal day. For example, there will be a shot of Mina coming out of her house. They’ll film that 30 times to find the best angle. There are a bunch of those “B-roll” shots for the business that happen.


What is the focus of the show going to be?

Karen: We don’t know for sure how the show has been edited, as we haven’t seen it yet. We do a complete home rehab from the foundation/studs up. The TV program guide says something about a mother and daughter rehabilitating a neighborhood one house at a time.


How has Fountain Square changed since you’ve been flipping homes there?

Karen: The Cultural Trail has opened since we’ve been there, and more businesses have opened. The neighborhood has become more diverse. Property values are higher.

Mina: A standard 1,200-square-foot house we sold for $124,000 just resold for $172,000. They didn’t do anything to it. Properties are selling for more, but that also means burnout houses are selling for more. We’ve made the move to Bates-Hendricks because it’s more where Fountain Square was four or five years ago.

Karen: We’ve almost sold ourselves out of our own neighborhood.


What distinct characteristics do you look for when house-hunting?

Mina: If we can get it for under $15,000, we take it. If it’s within the area we want, we can fix anything. We buy crumbling foundations. Mom says it does us a favor—if half a house is gone, then great! We don’t have to tear that down. Location is the only thing.

Karen: We are working in neighborhoods committed to being a neighborhood. We won’t fix up just one house. We find a neighborhood and buy as many houses as we can so we have an impact that is beneficial to the people who live there.


Have you faced any difficulties when breaking into a male-dominated trade?

Karen: First of all, have you ever seen my Mina? She’s beautiful, she has this gorgeous auburn-red hair, big green eyes, and she also has a great ass. She goes into Home Depot and just bats her eye lashes and they do anything for her. We’re not stupid, and the dudes we deal with know that immediately. They like dealing with girls. We get respect.

Mina: I usually bring donuts. When I come to my contractors for questions and requests, I do it with a smile and donuts.