To me, the most surprising part of the news that Marie Kondo had debuted an online store in which she sold tuning fork and crystal sets, bespoke laundry detergent, and a $96 ladle was not that Marie Kondo, a lifestyle impresario who turned telling people to get rid of their unnecessary crap into an entire life philosophy, had decided to start selling unnecessary crap on the internet. Instead, what raised my eyebrow the most was the accompanying revelation that Marie Kondo hadn’t already been selling unnecessary crap on the internet.
If you are unfamiliar with her beyond having maybe heard a friend refer to decluttering their apartment as “Marie Kondo-ing my space,” Marie Kondo is an “organizing consultant” with her own Netflix show and the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her big idea is the “KonMari Method,” which tells us to go through all our stuff, keep the things that “spark joy,” and throw out everything else.
On the surface, the idea that a person who tells us to get rid of the things we don’t need would have the audacity to turn around and do just that seems deeply hypocritical. However, the other half of the KonMari method is that we should only surround ourselves with things that truly matter; the sorts of products that we look at and say, “I should spend a little extra on this because it seems like a thing that I will keep forever.” Her philosophy is not anti-materialist but instead one that tells us a form of enlightenment can be found by curating the perfect combination of goods. And when you look at it that way, suddenly anything that Marie Kondo sells on her online store fits within the KonMari rubric, simply because she’s selling it.
To zoom out a bit, the easiest way for a celebrity to make money on the internet is to leverage their brand in the most direct manner possible. Marie Kondo could, hypothetically, appear in a commercial for bespoke matcha whisks, and the bespoke matcha whisk company would cut her a check. Or, she could just sell bespoke matcha whisks on her website, using her fame to drive people to that website. And in case buying physical things from Marie Kondo isn’t direct enough for you, her website also features a page where you can enlist the services of Kondo-deputized “consultants” who have received a certification in the KonMari method and can help you declutter your home in as Marie Kondo-y a way possible.
Selling a brand, rather than one specific product, is not something unique to Marie Kondo. Soulja Boy is notorious for hawking cheap shit from China on his website — including, incredibly, a stint selling knockoff video game consoles and now knockoff AirPods. Matthew McConaughey is the “creative director” of the spirits company Wild Turkey, and has his own signature whiskey with the firm. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop brand, perhaps a more direct Marie Kondo competitor than Soulja Boy or Matthew McConaughey, has expanded from its online store to physical boutiques in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, and Montecito (where Oprah lives). They also have moved beyond their status as a women-focused lifestyle brand to now selling stuff to “Goop men;” I wish I were kidding, but “Goop men” is an actual phrase that Goop uses on its website.
Celebrities, whether they’re famous for justifiable reasons or not, are all in the same boat. They’re famous enough that someone out there wants to give them money because of who they are, but most of those people are not rich enough to justify hiring that person to do the thing they actually do. I like Gwyneth Paltrow and Matthew McConaughey’s acting and cannot afford to express that by producing a movie starring both of them, but I can buy a candle from Goop and luxuriate in its scent while sipping some Wild Turkey. I also have a messy apartment that needs to be decluttered, but I am not rich enough to afford to have Marie Kondo fly to my house and tell me I don’t need my hover shoes. What I can do, however, is empty out my apartment entirely and restock it only with goods from Marie Kondo’s online store. If she’s selling it, it’s got to spark joy, right?