Tidying expert Marie Kondo is seemingly everywhere these days.
KonMari mania has been fuelled by the recent premiere of her eight-episode Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
In addition to being a TV star, the multi-hyphenate Kondo is also a:
- best-selling author
- organizing consultant
- public speaker
- social media influencer (with over 2 million Instagram followers)
While you may be aware of Kondo and some of her organizing methods, how much do you really know about the woman who was named one of Time’s “100 most influential people” in 2015 and where she came from?
Keep reading to learn some interesting Marie Kondo facts.
9 Marie Kondo facts you might not know
Netflix is notoriously hush-hush when it comes to revealing viewership numbers for its original programming.
But based on the Kondo hype at the moment, it’s safe to assume that Tidying Up has garnered millions of new converts (or “Konverts”, as they’re known) to her organization methods.
The streaming platform shrewdly timed the launch of Tidying Up (which one TV reviewer called “the happy version of Hoarders”) for New Year’s Day.
And what better time of year is there to capitalize on the “must get organized!” mindset many of us are in with our New Year’s resolutions?
Get to know the woman sparking joy worldwide with these nine facts about Marie Kondo.
1. Kondo’s six tidying rules
The “spark joy” element of Kondo’s organizing method (known as the KonMari Method) is well-known, but did you now that Kondo has six basic rules of tidying?
As she writes on her website, they are:
- Commit yourself to tidying up.
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
- Finish discarding first.
- Tidy by category, not by location.
- Follow the right order.
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
2. She’s been famous for longer than you might think
We here in North America may have only heard about Kondo in the last few years, but her public profile has actually been on the rise for almost a decade now.
15 years ago, Kondo started a part-time tidying business at the age of 19 while she worked full-time at a staffing agency.
The tidying business took off and she soon had a six-month-long waiting list for her services.
In 2010, she won first prize in a Japanese book publisher’s contest with the idea for what would become her debut book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which was released at the end of that year.
Its popularity spawned a Japanese TV movie titled The Life-Changing, Pulsing Magic of Cleaning Up and a follow-up book titled Spark Joy.
Having achieved major success and fame in Japan, Australia, and Europe, Kondo turned her attention to America.
3. Kondo’s success in America wasn’t immediate
When The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was released in the U.S. in 2014, it wasn’t an immediate hit.
Because Kondo didn’t have much of a profile yet on this continent and her English was limited, promotional opportunities were somewhat difficult to come by.
All of that changed when a New York Times reporter wrote about the book and Kondo’s organizing methods.
Sales took off and as of this writing, it has spent 149 weeks on The New York Times Bestsellers list and sold over 9 million copies.
Kondo made regular appearances on TV, the view counts on her instructional YouTube videos skyrocketed, and she became a pop culture darling (including shout-outs on TV shows The Mindy Project and the Gilmore Girls revival).
4. Shintoism influenced her tidying methods
Having enjoyed her numerous visits to Shinto shrines as a youngster, Kondo eventually worked at a shrine for a period as an attendant maiden.
She connected with the Japanese religion’s teachings of treating objects with respect and how tidiness and order can create a sacred, calming space filled with pure energy.
Although she doesn’t identify as particularly religious, Kondo does say that Shintoism has given her a lot of inspiration and had a big influence on her organizing methods.
For example, she likes to take into consideration how a piece of clothing might like to be folded.
And when discarding a piece of clothing such as a dress whose colour doesn’t spark joy for you, she thinks you should thank it for its service. Why? Because it was a helpful example of what wardrobe colour to avoid in the future.
5. She’s had a lifelong obsession with tidying
Okay, this Marie Kondo fact admittedly won’t be a complete shock to you – she’s been extremely organized her entire life.
Even as a little girl, Kondo was obsessed with staying tidy and eager for any organization-related information she could get her hands on. One of her earliest organization resources were her mother’s homemaking magazines.
The national library of Japan, which requires you to be at least 18 to enter, contained a wealth of organization and decluttering books and resources. You can guess where Kondo spent her 18th birthday.
While studying sociology at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University the following year, Kondo wrote her thesis, “How to Declutter Your Apartment — From a Sociological Perspective”.
During her schooling, friends started offering to pay her to tidy their rooms and homes, which was what lead to Kondo creating that first tidying business.
6. The KonMari Method isn’t strictly about minimalism
Kondo’s tidying philosophy tends to get labelled as “minimalism”, which isn’t necessarily accurate. It’s more like “minimalism-adjacent”.
While downsizing and less consumption are core foundations of the KonMari Method, Kondo isn’t opposed to keeping things around if they do meaningfully benefit you (aka “spark joy”).
Sentimentality (and the strong emotional attachments people can make with their possessions, thereby making things harder to part with) tends to be one of the banes of professional organizers.
For Kondo, however, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker when you’re deciding what to keep and what to discard.
If something with a sentimental pull truly makes you happy, Kondo sees no reason to get rid of it (she encourages it, in fact). This is all in moderation, of course.
She even admits to having a soft spot for a couple of items she holds onto: a free t-shirt she got years ago at an expo and a stuffed seal Kondo’s dad gave to her.
7. Her methods have ruffled a few feathers
Needless to say, Kondo’s meteoric rise has lead to some naysayers and critics of her non-traditional organizing methods.
They argue that her Eastern philosophies and hardline approach to decluttering (which one writer called “as ruthless as it is unrealistic”) aren’t suited to the Western world.
On a shallower level, Kondo’s delivery style also rubs some people the wrong way for being overly cute, such as her signature raised index finger “spark joy pose”.
Kondo takes the criticism in stride. As she told The New York Times Magazine after The Rachael Ray Show’s in-house organizer criticized some of her tidying methods on-air:
“I think his method is pretty great, too. I think it’s good to have different types of organizing methods because my method might not spark joy with some people, but his method might.”
8. She always wears something white
If you’ve been following Kondo for awhile, you may have noticed that she always seems to be wearing something white. We mean, like, always.
That’s a calculated choice as part of her brand and image, as she told The New Yorker. It makes sense. After all, what colour conveys a sense of being clean and tidy more than white?
You may also wonder why Kondo almost never wears pants in any of her videos or during any of her promotional appearances.
The reason is simple: several years ago, she stopped wearing them because pants no longer brought joy for her. You can’t argue that she’s not practicing what she preaches!
9. 5 things that “spark joy” for Kondo
So what sparks joy for Kondo? She recently revealed on her blog five things that are sparking joy for her these days:
- crystals kept on her nightstand “for their purification properties as well as their exquisite beauty”
- separate notebooks to jot down her ideas, dreams, and problem solving ideas
- rose water (for its anti-inflammatory properties and scent)
- cozy socks
- an antique box she’s had for years where she keeps her makeup
Tidy up and live with less clutter
Kondo and her tidying methods may not be for everyone. We do think it’s exciting, however, to see so much attention and awareness focussed right now on the value and importance of living with less clutter.
If Marie Kondo mania has gotten you inspired to tidy up and you’re looking for more traditional organization solutions for your home, Organized Interiors can help.
Schedule a free in-home design consultation with us to make plans for getting your household clutter under control.
Please share this post if you found it useful.