The recent Netflix series titled “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” has got millions of people wondering who is Marie Kondo?
The show seemingly came out of nowhere, but Marie has been around for quite some time. She’s written a book that’s been on the New York Times bestseller list that has collectively sold over 8.5 million copies in over 40 different languages.
Marie is the creator of a method of tidying up called “KonMari,” which is a diligent and methodical method of organizing your home and decluttering your home. And while many people are now familiar with the KonMari method, many people don’t know exactly how Marie Kondo get her start.
Marie Kondo’s Background
Marie Kondo, born Kondo Mariko on October 9th, 1984 in Tokyo, Japan, has been interested in cleaning up and organizing since she was a little girl.
When she was in middle schoo,l Marie would sneak into empty classrooms to tidy up the bookshelves while her classmates were in P.E. class.
In Japan, school children are encouraged to nominate one another (or themselves) for various roles such as class representative or the pet goldfish feeder. Marie appointed herself as the bookshelf manager so she could continue with her passion for tidying up.
While her obsession with cleaning and tidying up may seem a tad odd on the surface, but her religious background plays a huge role.
Marie grew up practicing the Shinto religion, also known as “Shintoism.” The religion believes in part that organizing and cleaning can be a spiritual practice. When asked where her passion for organizing comes from, she makes mention of her religion as well as her time spent as an attendant maiden at a Shinto shrine in Japan.
Birth of KonMari
As Marie tells the story, she had a nervous breakdown one day and fainted. When she awoke two hours later, she heard a god-like voice telling her to look at her material possessions more closely. It was at this point that she had her life-changing revelation that would eventually lead to the creation of KonMari.
Initially, Marie was only looking for things to throw out. The voice inside her head led her to realize that she should instead focus only on keeping things that “sparked joy” in her life. By assigning a value to a physical object, she was able to determine if that item brought her joy or was expendable.
For example, if someone went to their first concert in their teens and purchased a t-shirt, it may hold great sentimental value. As the years go by, every time they pull that shirt out of the closet or dresser, it would spark joy and fond memories from their past. These are the types of items that the practice of KonMari would encourage people to keep.
At 19 years of age, Marie founded an organizing consulting company, and the practice of KonMari was born. It consists of gathering up all of one’s belongings, one category at a time to determine which items should be kept and which should be discarded or donated.
Once the items that spark joy have been identified, the KonMari Method lays out the principles and techniques in which they should be stored. For example, shirts, pants, jackets, and other clothing items need to be folded in a certain way. This ensures that they will take up the least amount of space possible, while at the same time allowing the owner to quickly and efficiently find them when needed.
For more information on how to organize using the KonMari method, click here.
Rise to Fame
Marie’s consulting business grew so fast, and became so popular, that people wanting to hire her were put on a 3-month waiting list. Not wanting to wait 90 days for a consultation, many people suggested that Marie write a book so that they could begin the process on their own.
She took their advice and wrote her first book entitled: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” It quickly became one of the most popular books in Japan and was soon translated into over 40 different languages in 30 different countries.
The world had now been introduced to the KonMari Method.
Once the book reached the United States in 2014, it became an instant best-seller on the New York Times list. It was at this point that both KonMari and Mari Kondo took America by storm.
Her methods of tidying up spoke to many Americans who were drowning in clutter and mess due in part to rampant consumerism. In short, America was more than primed and ready to hear the “does it spark joy?” message from Marie Kondo.
The average American home is filled with boxes and boxes of junk and stuff we wind up keeping like pack rats in the self-belief that we will “need it one day.” KonMari helps remove this way of thinking and allows people to immediately see what possessions are and aren’t valuable.
Taking the U.S. By Storm
Since landing on U.S. shores, Marie Kondo has gone on to write three other books. She’s appeared on the national T.V. talk show circuit on such shows as “Ellen” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
She also was given a reality show in Netflix that aired New Year’s Day in 2019. She also still does personal consulting as she travels from home to home in Southern California, helping people in need tidy up their lives.
In 2012, Marie married Takumi Kawahara and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. However, she is somewhat private about her home life and has never invited reporters into her house to see what it looks like.
Marie Kondo has built an empire out of the simple act of tidying one’s living space. Millions of people have found the joy that comes from surrounding yourself with treasured items and the removal of things they don’t need. Her multimedia company, Konmari Media, LLC, has published several other books, including how to tidy up one’s workspace.
Are Marie Kondo and KonMari a passing fad, or could it be the spark and catalyst that will inspire tens of millions of people worldwide to start thinking about organizing, tidying up, and bringing joy to their home lives?
Only time will tell.