Bobby Berk On His New Website, His Love Of Jones Bar-B-Q Sauce & Splurging On Bedding

We all wish we had a Bobby Berk in our lives...and now we’re probably about as close as we can get. Netflix’s Queer Eye design guru just launched a lifestyle site that will help us add a little bit of Bobby to our everyday lives. He’ll share insight into wellness, food, fashion, and even some behind-the-scenes looks at his redesigns from the show. We recently caught up with Berk about his latest venture, his love of Jones BBQ sauce, and everything else he’s been up to lately.
Refinery29: What exactly is this new lifestyle platform?
Bobby Berk: So Bobbyberk.com is kind of the place where you can go to find all of the things you’re wanting to ask about Queer Eye, but can’t. So it’s not just about design, although design is a big component of it obviously, because I'm a designer; it's also about a lot of self care and lifestyle and health and fitness. I brought in an amazing new health and fitness guru. I actually found him in Kansas City. While we were filming there, he was Tan, Antoni and I’s trainer. We loved him so much that I have brought him and his girlfriend/fiancé to LA. And they’re now doing all the health and fitness, as well as the food for my site. So, health and fitness, food, design, fashion, travel, everything that encompasses a healthy self care lifestyle, you’ll find on bobbyberk.com.
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Will there be any guest posts from the other guys?
We just launched last week but I’ve already been talking to the boys about doing some special content for it, so definitely stay tuned. Another thing that will be on there from Queer Eye, that people ask me about all the time, are the before and afters of all the designs that I do. The designs don’t get a ton of screen time because at the end of the day, we’re not a design show, we’re about our heroes. So I wanted to put that online where everybody can find the sofas, and the bedding, and the plants. Everything that I use in every single episode, you’ll now be able to go on and figure out how to get that look.
Who is the target demo and what do you hope to teach them?
Our target demo is honestly anybody who wants tips on a better lifestyle. Tips on how to take care of yourself, how to find things that will make your life easier, tips on organizing, tips on travel. Literally our target demographic is anyone who wants to live a better life.
Aside from your site, what excites you right now in the design space?
Something that excites me right now in the design space is my new furniture collection that just launched in Asia last week and it launches here in the States in two weeks. Modern, yet comfortable, kind of a mid century flare when it comes to clean modern lines, but also kind of a Parisian deco vibe going on that I wasn’t really planning on and then it just happened and it’s really pretty. So pieces that can go with a lot of different things. It’s not just one genre...You can mix and match it with lots of different things.
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What made Kansas City such a special place to film Season 3?
Filming in Kansas City was super special. I grew up in Missouri. I spent 17 years of my life trying to get out and I never in a million years thought I would go back and actually really like it. There were so many days when I said to my husband, I’m like, we could live here. But then it got really cold, and we were like, never mind. Kansas City is just this big little town. It has everything you need, but there’s no traffic. Everything’s 10 minutes, no matter how far it is. It’s amazing. It has this amazing vibe about it, especially their downtown area, the power and light district. It’s like a mini New York. You walk everywhere, you don’t even really need a car, it’s super clean, everyone’s so friendly, the food is amazing, obviously the barbecue. Get some Jones sister BBQ sauce, it’ll change your life, you can put it on everything. I don’t know what it is about Kansas City. A) it felt like home, because I’m from that area, but it was very unexpected. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I honestly expected to hate it. It’s a very unexpected city. You go there expecting this small little town that is not cultured or international. I hate to say that, but I’m from there, I can say it. But it wasn’t. It felt like a little New York City. They really take pride in their city and it’s nice to see.
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Did you think the show would have such a positive impact on a business like Jones BBQ?
With the Jones sisters being the first business that we’ve helped, we didn’t really know what to expect. We know the “celebrity” that our other heroes have gotten and how many thousands of people love following them on social media because they love hearing their stories and watching them grow, but we didn’t know the effect it would have on a business. So to see how the show has just transformed their business and allowed so many millions of people to discover them and find out how amazing their sauce is, and their food. It’s just phenomenal. It’s humbling in a way because the power that we’ve been given by all of you, all of our amazing fans, to really expose you and introduce you to two amazing sisters and amazing food like them. It’s just really humbling and we feel honored that you trust us enough to be buying their sauce and when you get it, you realize why you trust us, because it is so good.
Would you ever do a business makeover show, structured similar to the Jones BBQ episode?
I don’t know if doing a business spinoff would work all the time. It worked with the Jones sisters because we had two amazing individuals. Technically, the sisters were who we were helping. They just happened to be two individuals who live, breathe, and sleep their business, so in turn, it helped their business. If the right one came along, we absolutely would, but I don’t think there will be a Queer Eye business spinoff because we just don’t have time.
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Loved the Bruley cameos in this season. What is Bruley really like?
Bruley’s a little brat, but he’s so cute. So Bruley was one of our producer’s dogs. And being the little brat that he is, and when I say brat, I mean the cutest little man, he would just wander onto set when we were filming. And wander off of set and on set. So finally we said, okay Bruley, if you want to be in the show, you can be in the show, and we just kind of adopted him. He’s very moody. When he’s done, he’s done, which sometimes when we were filming, would be quite the pickle because we have to move cameras sometimes and we need continuity. So when he was like, I’m done, there was nothing you could do to keep him on the sofa, we’d have to fight him.
What can you share about Queer Eye in Japan?
All of a sudden one day, Netflix just decided, we’re going to Japan, and we were actually really excited. In the beginning, I was like, this is going to be a disaster. There’s a huge language barrier, there’s a huge cultural barrier, we’re really loud and they’re not. And I just thought, we weren’t going to be able to connect, just due to the language barrier, but that wasn’t the case at all. I think maybe my favorite episode ever is our first episode of Japan. We had no problem connecting with our heroes. We didn’t skip a beat. It was great because it was very different issues than what we deal with here, but ultimately the same issues. It was called something different, it manifested itself differently, but ultimately, it was always kind of the same as what we deal with here. Just self love, self care, self confidence, and really just taking care of yourself and loving yourself.
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What are your top tips for small spaces?
Maximize your real estate, especially in New York. Don’t just think about your space horizontally, think of it in 3D. Think of it as going up and down. You need to make sure you utilize as much space as possible. If you have a decent height ceiling, do a loft bed, because why take up all your floor real estate for a bed? Put your bed up higher and be able to use the space beneath the bed for a desk, or a sofa, or a little office. If you can’t do a loft bed, at least stack your bed up a little bit so you can get drawers underneath it or boxes, so that way you’re really utilizing your real estate. Also, make your furniture do double time. If you are going to do a dining room table in your small space, use cubes for seating because that way the cubes can completely fit under the table, they don’t visually take up too much space, and you can get ones that have storage so you can keep all your crap in those as well. Also, making your room look taller and bigger, by making your curtains go all the way up to the ceiling, or hanging your art higher, it draws the eye up and it gives the illusion that the space is a lot bigger than it actually is.
You guys travel so much, what are your must-pack essentials?
My biggest must-pack item is my noise-cancelling headphones, which I have forgotten on my last three trips because I changed bags, and it’s not fun. When you are in public and people are being loud and you’re on planes so much, sometimes you just need to get away, even if you’re around tons of people, and that’s the best way to do it. Another thing is face masks. It gets really dry on flights and we take a lot of long flights. So I love bringing a nice face mask. Coming home from Hong Kong the other day...to the lovely flight attendant, whoever you were, that took my face mask off of me when I was sleeping so I wouldn’t suffocate, thank you. I woke up and it was nicely laid on the little table, I was like aw, thank you.
What are some tips to make a rented space feel like home?
Making a rented space feel like home can be hard sometimes if you have a strict landlord. My theory is it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. So go ahead and paint anyways. Just paint it back white when you’re done. Don’t paint wood, don’t paint cabinets, but feel free to paint your walls. Just make sure to fix it before you leave. Also temporary wallpaper is a really great way to zhoosh up your apartment, make it feel like home, and give it some personality. And rugs. If you have ugly carpet, get a big rug that almost covers up the whole room because it will make it feel more like you and it’s not the same carpet as the people who have lived there before.
What’s one thing we shouldn’t be afraid to splurge on?
The thing I always recommend splurging on is your bedding, your mattress. You spend a huge chunk of your life in bed resting and you want to wake up feeling good. If you’re in a crappy bed that makes you sore and awful in the morning, you start your day off in a bad mood because you start out uncomfortable. So splurge on bedding. Even when I lived in a tiny, little one bedroom apartment in New York with no money, I would save up for good bedding because I wanted to go home and go to sleep and relax; I wanted to wake up feeling refreshed.
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