I think we all got inspired earlier this year when Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’ series came out on Netflix. Everyone was talking about it and bringing her ‘if it doesn’t spark joy get rid of it’ philosophy into their lives. Charity shops reported a surge in donations due to the series encouraging so many to declutter their homes. Marie Kondo’s been in the news again recently, but rather strangely because she’s created her own online shop.
I’m not the first one to point out the fact that this seems a little ironic. Her success is built on getting rid of things; yet she’s trying to sell you more things…to replace the things you…got rid of?
I’ve had a browse of the store, and its lovely. It really is. But I couldn’t help but feel it was somewhat of a pointless amalgamation of items that don’t really connect to each other. The idea is that its supposedly all of Marie’s favourite things, the things that ‘spark joy’ for her. But I thought the whole idea of the KonMari method was that its about what sparks joy for you, as an individual person. What sparks joy for her might not spark joy for us, so why is she encouraging us to buy it?
The website fits in with that minimal aesthetic that’s really popular at the moment. Its designed in a way that makes you want to buy. Its built to encourage the impulse purchase. But this is the exact antithesis of what Marie Kondo promotes.
I think this all draws on a much wider phenomenon; capitalism and more specifically neoliberalism. The idea of pursuing profits at all costs; even when it seems contradictory. The thing is, Marie Kondo and her team probably knew that there was a lot of profit to be made through an online shop. Many media personalities diversify their income sources by selling physical products. I don’t know how profitable it is, but I imagine it makes a pretty decent sum.
An article from the Guardian explains how Marie said she isn’t promoting consumerism, but a lot of people were asking her about what her favourite items were, so she decided to create the site. But unless I’m missing something here, she could have quite easily made a site that explains all her favourite household items without selling them?
It doesn’t matter if she says she isn’t promoting consumerism; she is. You don’t need to be an expert to see that the whole website has been curated specifically to make the items she’s selling seem more desirable.
On the page ‘Rituals’ the subheading says, ‘How heritage and tradition influence the KonMari lifestyle.’ This really highlights what’s at the heart of this; she’s selling us a lifestyle. Buy her book, watch her series on Netflix, declutter your home with one of her consultants, and then buy her favourite items so that you’re living the KonMari Lifestyle.
If you try and sell a lifestyle there’s more opportunities to diversify than if you’re just trying to sell a product. Marie Kondo is seen as an aspirational figure. Minimalism is popular at the moment and she represents it in a way that people are keen to replicate.
It’s sad that Marie seems to have compromised her values here, but at the same time – it’s almost to be expected in a society that is driven by making money at all costs.