I stood naked in my shower, shivering under cold water, and lunged toward the icepick-shaped soap that had been stuck to a shelf for days. Marie Kondo had promised that the small purple chunk would “spark joy” in my life, but as I grabbed at it with sudsy hands and pulled with the weight of my entire body, all it gave me was an obliques workout.
The situation was hopeless. The bar would not budge. I let out a guttural moan and ditched the $22 Erode Mini Soap in favor of drugstore body wash I bought two years ago and somehow have not used up yet.
Last month, Marie Kondo opened KonMari, an online store. It’s named after her signature tidying method, which takes nods from Japanese Shintoism. The guru encourages followers to throw out all belongings that do not “speak to the heart.”
Many took the idea of Marie-as-Mogul like a kind of betrayal, wondering why would she spend years telling us in bestselling books and hit Netflix series to throw our stuff away, only to later sell us more stuff.
But as a woman who spent this morning digging through a pile of shoes I never wear to find the one pair I do, I have to say: I love stuff!
I own a jade roller and an oil diffuser and no less than three sculptural vibrators. My monthly expenses include a $30 lip balm. Slap the word “collagen” on any packaging and I need it in my hands—which are smooth, wrinkle-free, and eternally youthful, thanks to all this great stuff I have.
OK, not really. Deep down, I know that no amount of amethyst can reverse the feeling I get on the nights I lie awake underneath a comforter made from eucalyptus and wonder how much more stuff I need to buy to be happy. But damn if I don’t appreciate a nice sandalwood candle.
Kondo “curated” her collection of fancy things, which means she stocked her virtual shelves with pre-existing brands. When her team declined my request for an interview with its guru and also refused to send samples I could test for myself, I got in touch with PR for individual products like the Erude Mini Soap and Alabama Sawyer Countertop Compost bin.
I went home from work a few days later toting $356 worth of bliss-inducing goodies, including a $98 gemstone water bottle. I noticed its exorbitant price tag only after I used it solely to water my Christmas tree. My tiny evergreen is truly thriving this winter, and I can only assume this is because the “blend of sodalite and clear quartz is said to encourage awareness [and] being true to oneself.”
Comparing Kondo’s latest venture to Gwenyth Palthrow’s Goop, the doula of all celebrity lifestyle brands, was inevitable. Some of the products she sells can also be found on Goop dot com, such as the Everlasting Love Romance Mist from Paper Crane Apothecary.
For a mere $27, one can buy the spray “formulated to enhance romance by promoting feelings of love and acceptance.” Acceptance seems like a suspect emotion when it comes time to find a soulmate. I ordered Everlasting Love Romance Mist, not I Guess This Is Good Enough Spray.
The product smells like the boudoir of an elderly socialite, which is to say, rose and lavender. Multicolored gemstones rest at the bottom of the spritzer. Those were the source of a mysterious rattling sound that came from my purse for three weeks, sparking not joy but more the assumption that I might have developed tinnitus.
My kitchen countertop—which measures in at a robust length of not-quite-three feet—bore the brunt of Kondo’s stuff. I first placed upon it in an assortment of dish soaps from Common Goods, a household supply company known for its no-frills, refillable bottles.
I can confirm that they kept my plates and cutlery clean, and that I am now the type of put-together, tasteful woman who owns designer dish soap. I regret to inform you that being such a person does not immediately Fix Everything.
The majority of my counter is now home to the Alabama Sawyer Compost Bin, which Kondo’s copywriters call a “streamline and discreet” container. The mitered wooden box resembles the coffin of a pet hamster.
It’s meant to be used as storage for banana peels, coffee grounds, and the like, before that refuse is used in your garden. The only garden I have is a fern that I choose to pretend isn’t totally dead. I put my compost over its soil and hope that’s how plants work.
Perhaps the best product in my lineup was the Mini Soap. It fit perfectly in my hand. Unfortunately, one day I left it on a shelf from which it has yet to separate. Over time, the bar has begun to melt a bit, with sticky bits of its bottom half spreading out from the base like ringworm. It’s making a big mess—one I don’t think even Marie Kondo herself could clean up.