Karin Basenach demonstrates the KonMari method of folding clothes
Photo: Mike Zenari
Karin Basenach is set to become Luxembourg’s first consultant in the KonMari method, and she’s on a mission: to spark joy in others through the art of tidying up.
Delano spoke with her more about the KonMari method and why Basenach was inspired to go from disciple to consultant.
Natalie A. Gerhardstein: What was your first experience with the KonMari method?
Karin Basenach: My sister told me for the first time a few years ago about Marie Kondo, and then a very good friend of mine offered me her book in French.
What was your initial reaction to it?
After having read the book, I was quite sure that she could help me get out of the feeling of having too much at home. I was convinced that the method could help me.
Can you tell us how it was becoming ‘too much’ at home?
I moved several times in Luxembourg and never had time to discard things because I was always in a hurry. Over the years, I accumulated a lot of things at home, and for a long time was thinking I had too many things. There was also a second phenomenon, and Marie Kondo mentions this in her book, the situation that you are tidying your home, [but] after a few weeks it’s the same again. I told myself, every time I cleaned, ‘This is so nice, it’s the last time, it’s done.’ But it’s wasn’t done, and I couldn’t understand why. But now that doesn’t happen anymore.
So what’s the distinction between simply cleaning up and the KonMari method?
For me the main difference is that on the basis of the KonMari method is that she is cleaning on the basis of categories. Let’s say, for example, all items of a certain category are put in the same place. If you do the method, you should respect a certain order. First clothing, then books, then papers or documents, ‘komono’ [miscellany], and finally the sentimental items, which we know is the most difficult. For me this makes the difference. She has a very positive approach. The whole method is about one single sentence: does it spark joy for you? It’s a positive approach, instead of saying what you should throw away. That’s not the question that should lead you… This is too often missing, I think, in a lot of sectors--not only at home in cleaning up, but this positive approach that you appreciate things. It’s very important with the KonMari Method to appreciate everything you have. Objects deserve to be used, appreciated.
I assumed you tried to do the KonMari method yourself before deciding to go for your certification?
It was a condition to become a consultant. Very quickly I decided to become a consultant, and I knew that I had to do the method at home too, so quite early I started cleaning up my house.
What were the easier or more difficult aspects of that?
I didn’t have a consultant on my side to keep me motivated the whole time. You need time, to be convinced, and mainly to remain motivated during the whole process over all categories. I can see now, as I’m working with clients, the extent to which it helps them if somebody stays next to them and can motivate and encourage them.
How long did it take you to apply the method in your own home?
It took more than six months because Marie Kondo says that the consultant should ensure that the whole process, or tidying marathon, ideally is done within six months. But it took slightly more time for me, without a consultant.
What did you do with your things you decided to let go of?
This is another important point, people shouldn’t think they have to throw away all things which don’t spark joy, but you can give a second life to things. We talk a lot about sustainable consumption these days, so ideally you give a second life to things that don’t spark joy to you but might spark joy to other people. I gave clothing and books, for example, to charities. It helped a lot to know I could give a second life to these items, it’s part of the method.
Did it cause you to reflect on your own consumption patterns?
The first step is to put all the clothes together, even if they are in different [locations], then do the process. When I saw the amount of clothing, I asked myself if I really needed all those clothes and when I had put them on the last time. Now that I’ve done the whole process, now when I go shopping, it’s completely different compared to before. I really try to get this feeling of does it spark joy for me. It’s with much more conscience.
Did you emotionally feel different after the process was completed?
Definitely! Lightness, more energy in the room, and in the morning it’s faster if I have to dress up because I really like everything in my closet. There’s definitely more space, energy, more positive emotions.
Did others notice the change too?
My family members did, definitely. In the kitchen, the room used by all of us, now I know where I put the different things I have because everything has its place… Once I’d done it, my daughter, for example, did the KonMari method in her room. She was as enthusiastic as I was.
How did you go from that to consultant?
Seeing to which extent it helped me and somehow changed my life because one could say KonMari isn’t about tidying the house but changing your life. I thought it would be a great idea to help other people with this.
What are the steps of certification?
I have to reach steps for the consultant course, but before they accept you, normally the courses are in person, not online. I was registered for the London course, but because of the coronavirus [Kondo] changed it to a virtual course, and I was in the first virtual course ever. I registered for the virtual course but before being accepted for the virtual online course, which took three days, they checked if I had read the books. There was a small quiz. Then I had to submit reports and photos of my KonMari-ed home. It was a whole process. I completed those steps, then they allowed me to participate in the virtual course, which had 75 people from all over the world. Marie Kondo also appeared, it was great to listen to her. This was quite intensive, three whole days, and then there are three more steps after that. Once we had done this virtual course, everyone has to work with at least two clients, to fulfill at least 10 sessions of KonMari method, and every session has to be at least three hours, so you have to work at minimum 30 hours with two clients. With at least one of these two clients, you have to do the whole process. Here again she says it should not take longer than six months, maximum. For every 3-hour session, I had to submit a report and upload photos before and after to prove that I work with the clients. Then they approve the reports, photos, and decide if you can take the exam online and once this is done you have an interview with a collaborator of Marie Kondo. It’s a long process.
Was it easy enough to find clients?
In the virtual course, we were asking ourselves if we could find clients to work with. But I found them! It’s great to see, now as I also work with clients, I work with more than these two clients, I can really see also after the first category, I can see the change. People are so happy.