Marie Kondo, organizing guru and star of her own Netflix series Tidying Up, recently launched a shop on her website selling luxury housewares and minimalist home decor. Offerings include $200 slippers and $80 kitchen trivets. While this new venture is not entirely surprising it seems out of step with her message of tidying and discarding the things that don’t “spark joy”. It feels a bit like if your nutritionist opened up a donut shop. Sure, donuts can be a part of a balanced diet, but do you really trust advice on healthy eating from someone making their living off fried pastries?
Kondo tells us in a statement on her website that she is selling items that spark joy for her. As a way of explanation she says, “Once you’ve completed your tidying, there is room to welcome meaningful objects, people and experiences into your life.” And she reminds us to first follow her tidying method and only then to “purchase mindfully.” She seems to be suggesting that the goal of getting rid of the excess is to have more space to fill with more stuff.
Kondo is being compared to Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, celebrities who have turned their fame into million- and billion-dollar businesses. Chip and Joanna Gaines have created an empire off the popularity of their HGTV show. There are many models today for the rich and famous to become their own brand with an accompanying line of merchandise. And I can’t really fault Kondo for wanting to use her celebrity to make money beyond her book sales.
When we admire someone in the public eye it’s natural to want to figure out their “secret sauce”, the thing that makes them successful. But no one can replicate any individual’s journey to get to where they are today. Using Marie Kondo’s curated collection of kitchen utensils or burning her favorite incense won’t make you an organizing dynamo. And her shop is selling the same message we get from every retailer: this new purchase is what you need to spark joy.
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