To fans of HGTV’s Rehab Addict, Nicole Curtis might seem like an open book, allowing cameras to capture her daily life, from selling homes to rehabbing old ones.

But viewers might be surprised to learn how little they know about the host — like how she got her start in TV to begin with.

Although the 40-year-old real estate agent is a successful house renovation expert and author of Better Than New: Lessons I’ve Learned from Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me), before she became a household name, she was a struggling single mother who waited tables and cleaned houses to support herself.

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“I started a cleaning business to put myself through school,” she said in 2014. “The cleaning business did very well. Did I care that people treated me like I didn’t exist because I was the ‘housecleaner?’ No, because I saw myself as CEO of a lucrative corporation, and it paid off.”

While cleaning houses, she later got her real estate license and began fixing up houses on the side. But she doesn’t like to be called a “house flipper.”

“I got interested in rehabbing because I was poor,” she said. “Nothing motivates you to learn how to do something like not having the money to pay to have it done. I’ve never bought anything turnkey and never will. I’ve never ‘flipped’ a house in my life. I really don’t feel that I fit in that category. I rehab houses out of necessity.”

So how did a former housecleaner become the host of one of HGTV’s most popular shows? Check out the video below to learn more facts you never knew about the reality TV star.