Does it spark joy? It’s a question – or perhaps rather a catchphrase – that has become instantly recognisable this year.
Marie Kondo’s Netflix show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ launched in the United Kingdom in January catapulting the Japanese organisation guru and her KonMari method into the limelight.
However, it was Kondo’s first book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’ that inspired Manchester-based Jane Fern, 60, to follow in Kondo’s footsteps.
“I was very interested in home organising and I was following Marie Kondo so I decided to go to New York to train,” she said.
Jane trained under Marie Kondo herself on an intensive course to become a fully qualified KonMari consultant, one of just 19 in the United Kingdom.
“The training was amazing. When I did it, it consisted of three days of seminars which were absolutely amazing. Once you’ve done the actual seminars, then you start to work with practice clients. We do about 50 hours of actual practice sessions and we submit reports and then we take an exam to actually graduate.
“It’s quite rigorous, it’s not an easy process because what you’re doing is really scrutinised. And then the exam at the end is quite vigorous in its questioning and making sure that you understand exactly why you’re doing the things you’re doing,” Jane explained.
After qualifying in March 2018 Jane started her business Spark Joy Manchester.
Her company offers in-home tidying sessions lasting either three or five hours, where Jane goes through each item with her client, sorting belongings into the five categories that the KonMari method prescribes.
It’s a method that Jane says has a positive impact on her clients’ mental health, as well as being beneficial to the organisation of their homes.
“I’m finding a trend with people that are contacting me saying that they are struggling emotionally with the point they are at in their lives because life’s just become overwhelming. People are very stressed at the moment, very anxious, very overworked and the KonMari method is helping people to identify what is actually going on in their life.
“I think a lot of people find it very difficult to reach out to somebody in the first place as it’s not the norm in this country. People are expected to just be able to get on by themselves, and they don’t always realise that it’s ok to get some help, get a coach in and help you out,” she said.
According to Jane it is the sentimental aspect to the KonMari method that has such a positive and refreshing effect on mental health.
“There are real emotions attached to it and it’s quite surprising. It’s definitely more of a lifestyle thing rather than normal decluttering and organising. Very much the focus is on changing the mind-set and changing how you think about how you’re living in your home,” said Jane.
The KonMari method sees a person organise their belongings according to five categories. The first category is clothing and the client must touch and examine every item they have and question whether that item is ‘sparking joy’. If the answer is yes then the item is kept, if not the person gets rid of it.
“If someone goes through the whole process, by the end of it they will have touched every item in their home and made a decision on every item in their home.
“We’re not looking for Pinterest-perfect photographs of people’s homes when we are working with clients. We’re not looking for people to have a perfect view, because we’re working with normal people with normal houses and normal families.
So, what’s next for Manchester’s very own Marie Kondo and the KonMari method?
Kondo’s Netflix show has already had a big impact on Jane’s business and training to become a KonMari consultant is now available in the UK with over 100 people on the waiting list, according to Jane.
“There’s definitely been a lot more interest since the show which has been good. I think what the show demonstrated was that seeking help and advice isn’t a shameful thing and they didn’t embarrass anybody. Some of the programmes you get out there today are shaming people and it’s not like that at all.
“It’s been a really interesting and joyful journey and the future is definitely looking bright.”