I was reading this profile of Marie Kondo, the “spark joy and tidy up” guru from Japan, in Fast Company and learned that Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant had bought a controlling interest in Kondo’s company, KonMari, in August 2019. Somehow the news slipped my attention. All I remember that there were some rumors that she had raised $40 million in venture funding, but the Fast Company piece reveals the following:
KonMari announced that Rakuten had taken a majority stake in the company for an undisclosed sum, burying it in a press release that sounded like an endorsement deal between Kondo and the e-commerce giant.Fast Company
Kondo, who is the best selling author of The Life-Changing, Pulsing Magic of Tidying Up and the star of a Netflix television show, has been working on a new book about tidying up your workplace and a new Netflix special. The Fast Company profile (puffery, really) is based entirely on a conversation with Kondo, her husband (who doubles as CEO of her company), and a few TV executives who obviously have a vested interest in the Kondo myth. As an editor, I would have asked for a clearer understanding of how the Kondo philosophy was working in the real world. I would have expected more than passing glance at her critics.
As someone who was an early believer in Kondo’s original philosophy, I have since come to see it as nothing more than a Kon Job. Tidying up is akin to a bandaid or a painkiller — it takes care of the symptoms, but it doesn’t really cure the disease. And that disease is called rampant consumerism. Nothing drove home this point more than when she launched her store — to sell us more shit. Kondo’s philosophy eschews the idea that the problem — both for our planet and our wallets — begins at the point of buying. Tidying up comes long after the damage has been done.
As I mentioned, she has an upcoming book called Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life. I won’t be picking it up — Marie Kondo’s hokum doesn’t spark joy anymore.