It all started with a gift from Helena Price: Marie Kondo’s best selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up. Perhaps, Helena saw the clutter in my apartment when she came to visit (to take photos that were to accompany my interview with Offscreen Magazine) that convinced her that I needed help. I think I did. Deep down, I for past few years I have known that I had accumulated too many things. I was holding on to things — both physical and metaphorical that provided the comfort of past, leaving room for nothing new. I was holding on to things that didn’t make any sense. I didn’t know why I had a living room full of furniture that had started to feel so alien.
Letting go is even more important than adding. The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
About two years back, I had scaled down my life to a small one bedroom apartment — one that is more befitting my desire to travel and use San Francisco as the hub of my journeys into the unknown. I had left the company I started to pursue life and see the world which was changing even as I stayed put in one place. I had a closet full of clothes that had no correlation with my style sensibility. Ill-fitting, trendy, too colorful and some of them just out of sync with the early autumn stage of my life. Many were the roadkill on my evolution as a man who slowly got comfortable with knowing what he didn’t want as much as when he did.
Today, I much prefer few things — well fitting, mostly bespoke, and built to last into the future when I might be long gone. The mainstream brands have little room in my life, instead I prefer to find craftsmanship. I like makers who make, because they don’t know what else to do. These choices are hard, sometimes cost more and take a lot of patience. I have learned to buy things I love. There isn’t any more room for mere “likes” in my life.
Kondo’s book, which isn’t going to win any literary points, to me was a good reminder that visual interaction with things you have in your home has a profound impact on how one feels about them, which in turn leads to creative uses of even a few things.
Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.
That is such a great way of thinking about clothes. But before I got to that point, I knew I had to start purging — I prefer purging to the more cliched, tidying.
Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.
The question then is where to start on this purge? I ended up emptying out my storage unit and dropping off as much as I could at Goodwill, hoping that they will reach someone in need. My books went to a library. I had three cases full of stationary which went to a school. But there was still so much stuff. What should I do with that?
THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT
Enter Eliza Kern, who worked with us at Gigaom and now works at Facebook. She said, why don’t you talk to my friend, Bill Bobbitt of Moveloot, which is a San Francisco based service that allows you to consign your furniture. Introductions made, and a coffee with Bill (who is hell of a smart guy and has some neat theories about ownership) and before you know it, my apartment was empty, devoid of everything except the essentials I absolutely love. Thanks Bill for looking out!
Bill introduced me to Chris Luhur, Director of Marketing of another San Francisco-based startup, Twice, a great service to consign your clothes. (The founders of Twice are actually CEO Noah Ready-Campbell and Calvin Young) One thing lead to another and we decided that perhaps it would be a good idea if they could create a featured store where all the clothes leaving my closet could be sold and proceeds from those could go towards UCSF, which is my preferred charity of choice. Before you know it, the Twice team was helping me clean out my closet — and today, we have launched that store. There are some great stuff here from great brands — James Perse, Cole Haan, Barbour, Aether Apparel, Bugatchi Uomo, Agave, Robert Talbot, J.Crew, Emile Lafaurie, Brioni, Burberry and Dunhill.
I have reduced the closet down to 100 items — with the exception being socks and shoes — two weaknesses. I still have more outerwear coats than I should, but I travel to cold climates often that I feel these will come in handy. I have about a dozen more sweaters than I need — I really need two — but again, these are part of what I carry when I travel, so I feel I can justify. So what next? I don’t know what is next — all I know is not more. Cleansing was one of my major to-dos for 2015 and I feel I have made good progress, though there is still more purging to be done.
Photos courtesy of Like Twice.