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'Queer Eye's' Bobby Berk: Living paycheck to paycheck taught me to hustle

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Living paycheck to paycheck made 'Queer Eye' star Bobby Berk a 'workaholic'

On Netflix's "Queer Eye," Bobby Berk is known for dramatically redesigning homes in a short amount of time.

So, where does the design guru get his drive?

"I've always been a workaholic," Berk, 39, tells CNBC Make It. His productivity now stems from his past, when "taking a break and not working my butt off all the time was not ever an option."  

As a young person, "I was always living paycheck to paycheck," Berk says.

Berk, who is originally from Mount Vernon, Missouri, dropped out of school at 15 and worked retail jobs in Colorado to make ends meet.

"There was no, 'slow down a little bit,'" Berk recalls about the time. "It was work, work, work those $4 an hour jobs to try to pay your rent." In 2003, he moved to New York City and worked at Restoration Hardware, where we developed an interest for interior design.

This mentality has "just poured over into my life," he says. (Berk's father, Jerry Berk, still works at 80 years old, he says.)

With filming for "Queer Eye" on pause during the pandemic, Berk's workday now consists of creating content for his lifestyle website.

"Since my work has expanded in so many different ways… we could work 24/7 if we wanted," he says.

But working from home often means drawing boundaries to create work-life balance. Berk says he and his husband, Dewey Do, have a rule that they don't use phones after 10 p.m. "It should be earlier than that, but I can't bring myself to not respond to things."

As for Berk's skills on "Queer Eye," he says it's only possible "because it takes a village." He has a team of installers, junior designers, contractors and construction workers who make the transformations come together as quickly as they do.

"But yeah, it's just in my nature to work all the time," Berk says.

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