The ultimate objective of all influence is to sell us something. This is true even if the influencer is someone who has made a career out of telling the rest of us to get rid of things, eschew to excessive consumerism, and to own only things that spark joy. Yup, you guessed it right: Marie Kondo, the countess of clean up and high-priestess of minimalism wants us to buy stuff and stuff our homes. Except, you will buy it from her store, which launched this week. On her shop, Kondo curates 150 products from different brands, none of which are likely to spark joy — at least, not universally.
In case you don’t know who Marie Kondo is (an impossible feat, given that she is all over the airwaves), she is the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book that has sold millions. Kondo’s core philosophy is that you should only own things that “spark joy” and get rid of things that add clutter. The Japanese-born cleanista also has a TV series on Netflix called “Tidying Up.” Don’t clutter up your precious time watching it — it is terrible.
I was an early believer in her philosophy. Given my predisposition towards the iShuffle Philosophy, I was ready for Kondo’s preachings, and her book only gave steel to my resolve to move towards less but better. I have chronicled my adventures in living with less. As a guest on Hodinkee’s excellent podcast, I discussed at length how and why I was trying to declutter both life and my mind.
Doing more with less, owning fewer things, and eschewing the always-on hyperactive “buy now” machine that is designed to trigger the proverbial buy button in our heads is very hard to resist. And perhaps that is why I feel disappointed by Kondo’s store launch. As a purveyor of minimalism and a better consumption ethic, the very presence of a store is the antithesis of what she has been preaching.
Amanda Mull, a writer for The Atlantic, sums up my feelings well.
It’s ballsy to encourage people to throw out their possessions only to turn around and sell them replacements. Despite the profound irony, though, Kondo’s pivot from decluttering Svengali to tchotchke retailer isn’t particularly surprising. She has muscled her way to legitimate celebrity status in America, and in 2019 the end game of fame is always sales.
We shouldn’t be surprised that she is going all-in on consumerism. She is rumored to have raised over $40 million in venture money — and professional investors don’t believe in charity. In other words, that KonMari has to become a big and fast-growing business — and the store is perhaps all part of the grand plan. Or the Kon Job.
November 21, 2019, San Francisco