Marie Kondo: ‘My greatest achievement? Organising the world’

Born in Tokyo, Marie Kondo, 37, was 19 and studying sociology at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University when she launched a consulting business to help people declutter and organise their homes. In 2014, she published her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; it has been translated into 44 languages and sold more than 13m copies worldwide. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015 and has a hit Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her latest book is Joy at Work: Organising Your Professional Life. She is married with three children and lives in Los Angeles.

What is your earliest memory?
Welcoming my younger sister into the family, around the age of three.

What would your superpower be?
Helping people to find joy in their lives.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I got a call several years ago from the Japanese publisher of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up telling me that sales had exceeded 100,000 copies. I went to a high-end market in Tokyo and bought the most expensive eggs, soy sauce, rice and nori seaweed, and cooked eggs over rice. It’s Japanese comfort food, but I made it with the best ingredients available to celebrate. To this day, it is still my guiltiest pleasure.

What do you owe your parents?
The many items I threw out without them knowing.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Kawaii”, which means cute in Japanese.

What does love feel like?
Warm and fuzzy.

If not yourself, who would you most like to be?
At one point, I was interested in being a farmer. I love growing organic vegetables, especially carrots.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something significant?
Around 2015. I had just given birth to my second child, and I was so busy travelling internationally to promote my book that I forgot to take care of myself. I was too busy to even realise that I needed a break. Since then, I have been mindful about my work-life balance.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
It’s still a work in progress, but I would have to say, organising the world. With all the KonMari consultants around the world, and those that read my books or watched the Netflix shows, we are definitely making a difference.

How would you like to be remembered?
Tidying fanatic.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Keep only the items that spark joy.

Who is your celebrity crush?
I love Kumamon. He is a big black bear with red cheeks – a mascot for Kumamoto prefecture in Japan.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Housewife and mother of three, which I am now.

Would you choose fame or anonymity?
I want tidying and organisation to be spread throughout the world, but for me, personally, I am OK with anonymity.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
In elementary school: I opened my lunchbox and it was empty. I was devastated.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I don’t have anything that I want to change. I’m sure I did in the past but I can’t recall, which means it wasn’t that big a deal.