Cleveland's Only KonMari Consultant is Sparking the Joy of Cleaning Up

click to enlarge Chris Beers and Marie Kondo. - PHOTO VIA CHRIS BEERS
Photo via Chris Beers
Chris Beers and Marie Kondo.
Organizer Chris Beers, the only Cleveland-based consultant officially certified to tidy homes using Marie Kondo's joyful cleaning method, was thrilled when Netflix released Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in January, freshly renewing interest in what's called the KonMari method.

To Beers, any cleaning process needs to be positive, like when Kondo asks clients on the show take time to thank every discarded possession.

The KonMari process, first outlined in Kondo's book, 2011's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is existential in nature: does each item in your house "spark joy?" If not, it's time to let it go.

Of course, that's easier said than done, and some clients have difficulty understanding exactly how joyful they're supposed to feel.

“When I talk about joy, I say to people, think about a time when you were just inexplicably happy," Beers explains. "You’re having this peak experience, and then you look back and remember that fondly, that is joy.”

Since the beginning of the year, Tidying Up and the KonMari method have ignited a cultural revolution, with plenty of think-pieces and even a Kondo red carpet Oscar appearance. Donations throughout the Cleveland area have also increased since the show’s release. Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central experienced a 15 percent increase in January, which the Vice President of Marketing and Development told directly attributes to the KonMari effect.

There are also events popping up that celebrate Kondo’s philosophy, including KonMari Market at B-Side Lounge tonight, where Beers is set to speak. The event includes buying and selling items that “no longer spark joy.”

Field Play Pro Organizing, Beers’ company, has operated in Cleveland since early 2018, when he moved here from New York City. Prior to his KonMari certification, post-bachelor's degree in fine arts, he was doing odd jobs in NYC, including occasionally tidying.

Beers says he looked up Marie Kondo’s website, and within seconds of watching her, was hooked.

“I was just like, stars in my eyes. I knew this woman was doing something profound, taking [organizing] to a deeper level,” he says.

Beers enrolled in her course about a month later (“It was like this crazy love fest. I mean.. not too crazy!”) and recalls his graduation day in December 2017, which included meeting Kondo herself, as one of the happiest days of his life. He moved to Cleveland with his girlfriend, a Case Western Reserve University graduate student, and started seeing clients.
click to enlarge Chris enjoying a newly-tidied kitchen. - PHOTO VIA CHRIS BEERS
Photo via Chris Beers
Chris enjoying a newly-tidied kitchen.
Now, he’s settled into his new city and career, and has a routine.

"I start by inspiring the person, helping them see that harmony really is possible, that they can have peace of mind, that they can have what they want," he says. "The person, no matter who they are, has to believe that it is possible, first and foremost.”

From there, he sits down with his client to create a rough sketch of their home and a plan, and then they get to work. It reminds him of how he used to think about drawing in art school, creating a composition.

This is also where the practical application of sparking joy occurs.

“I don’t try to explain [joy] in an intellectual way,” he says, “I try to get people to almost feel it, through memories. I try to guide people through the experience of joy.”

He instructs clients to sit in front of a pile, to breathe deeply, and pick up an item at the top. Then, they close their eyes, and scan their feelings: “your body is sort of like a litmus test for joy.”

There are concrete factors taken into account (broken things, expired makeup, etc), but the overarching theme falls at the junction of betterment and self-acceptance. “I bring in a lot of language from life coaches,” he says, on personalizing the KonMari method. He also keeps in touch with all of his clients, none of whom have "rebounded" to their old ways.
click to enlarge Mary's home, before Chris - PHOTO VIA CHRIS BEERS
Photo via Chris Beers
Mary's home, before Chris
click to enlarge Mary's home, after Chris - PHOTO VIA CHRIS BEERS
Photo via Chris Beers
Mary's home, after Chris
He is particularly proud of Mary, who began at “an 8 or 9 out of 10” on the clutter-meter. After they “brought it to a 1” together, she was hospitalized, had surgery, and ended up home for a long period of convalescence. Beers says he was so proud that when he visited her later, the home was as tidy as when he had left.

The best advice, he has discerned from his training, is to find a way to relax.

“If you can’t relax, you can’t create a dream that’s worth having. You just stay anxious,” he clarifies, then laughs. “That’s kind of some advice to myself, as well.”

KonMari Market is at B-Side Liquor Lounge Wed, Feb. 27, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Beers speaks at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
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