Emma Carpenter, a freshman at George Washington High School, has big dreams. She has a lot of ideas on how to restore Charleston and West Virginia, to bring the area back to its former stature. With the odds stacked against her, she entered and won a contest called ChipStarter, run by famous house renovators and stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco, Texas. Now she gets to put her hopes and ideas into motion.


FlipSide: Why did you want to enter this contest?

Emma Carpenter: I have a dream of going into the business of restoration of historic buildings in Charleston. I found The Summer Seminar for Historic Preservation at Savannah College of Art and Design to help me achieve my goals.

For this camp, I needed $3,000 for tuition and transportation fees. To get that money, I entered Chipstarter and did not expect to win — 3,500 people applied and I was one of 12 to be chosen. I was also one of three minors in the competition. But, here I am.

I noticed that a lot of buildings In Charleston need to be remodeled badly. By fixing these buildings we can bring tourism and and money back into West Virginia.

FS: What did you do in Waco?

EC: We went to a lot of buildings and events in Magnolia farms in Waco, Texas. I also was gifted with money to go to the camp in Savannah. Chip and Joanna were very nice and I had a lot of fun there.

FS: What are you going to do in Savannah?

EC: The camp is for historic restoration. I’ll learn many details on how to restore buildings, the process, and a lot of other knowledge that will help me later on as I work towards my future career.

FS: Do you have any plans in particular for the city of Charleston?

EC: The old Stone & Thomas building, the Blossom Dairy and the Daniel Boone Hotel. All of these places used to be something great. And, I think with the right ideas they can be again. I have a lot of ideas for the buildings, and also the mall, if I could turn those into a reality, it could help Charleston become great again.

We need to get people back into downtown Charleston. So, I want to work hard to change that. I’m also planning to take business classes and do everything that I can to achieve my goals.

FS: How did you know that you wanted to go into the restoration business?

EC: I’ve always liked history. I won the Golden Horseshoe and enjoyed learning about about the history of West Virginia. I saw a real opportunity for this city. I got more interested as I looked into it and now I don’t want to do anything else. I’ve always liked the entrepreneurial side of things and have had my own business in the past, nothing major. So once I found restoration, I just knew I wanted to do it.

FS: How do you balance everything that you do?

EC: Well, I spend the day in school, dance in the evenings and study architecture and history of buildings with any spare time. I’m just always occupied. I love everything that I do, and time management is very important. I have to give 100 percent of my heart to everything that I do. And, well, it just works. And I’ve been supported by my family and everyone. They’ve been a big help.

FS: What can teens do to complete their goals?

EC: Working hard, and don’t be afraid. I didn’t think I would win the Chipstarter contest, but I sent in an application anyway and I won. So don’t be so hard on yourself, whatever you think is impossible — at least try. Rejection is not so bad when you have a chance to win. And make sure that you are giving it your all. Even at a young age you can still have a voice and can still do great things.

You can view Carpenter’s winning contest entry at https://chip-starter.com/dreams/mak ing-history-with-history/#dream.