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Fresh Faced

Radiant Life: How did Niki Newd come to fruition?

Kirsi Kaukonen: The kernel of inspiration for Niki Newd was planted over 16 years ago, when I taught my friend a facial masque recipe that has been passed down from mother to daughter in my family for at least 200 years.

The masque recipe is freshly blended just before use. When I was young, my mother mixed it for herself and me and my brothers just before we went to the sauna. We let it work on the skin in the sauna for a while. How wise our mothers have been! Now science can explain to us why the masque is so effective and why this recipe has been our “secret weapon” for at least 200 years. After the masque, we developed our oatmeal soap, which has become a very iconic product. It is a gentle product for cleansing the skin of makeup without drying. Dry skin was our problem before we developed our oatmeal soap, but not anymore. After the soap, we wanted to have our own cream, of course, and Skin Butter, one of our most popular products, was born.

Those 16 years have only strengthened my inspiration, and I feel that now the time seems to be mature enough for our product philosophy. Think of oat milk, which was consider odd a few years ago. But is it anymore? Over many years, Oatly pioneered its vegetable-based “dairy product” until it became part of our food culture. We are doing it now in skin care, little by little, by bringing out the idea that skin care products should be fresh, too, like the food we want.

The Niki Newd product line was launched five years ago. During the 10 years before the launch, we first developed skin care products for our own needs and for our friends. After that, we built our brand carefully and patiently. We test all products on our own skins, and we have a circle of friends who are always ready to test our products. After our long testing period, the product goes through an official external product safety assessment. After that, we launch the product.

After deciding to build this company pioneering fresh skin care, we haven’t had a single regret.  This is one of the things that make me smile every day.

Niki Newd Gourmet Collection. (Courtesy of Niki Newd)

Radiant Life: What exactly do you mean by “fresh skin care”?

Kirsi Kaukonen: Fresh skin care is freshly blended of 100% traceable, 100% natural ingredients without any additives, preservatives, or alcohol. And on top of that, we also focus on using food-grade ingredients instead of cosmetic-grade ones. These four principles are met in fresh cosmetics, unlike in “natural” cosmetics, where, at least for the time being, not all these criteria are met. In this way, we have taken natural skin care to a whole new level.

We believe that the principles applied to healthy food and nutrition should also be applied to skin care. So, when thinking of preparing a wholesome gourmet dinner, what kind of ingredients would you choose? The best ones, of course. And so would we!

Therefore, all our ingredients are of the highest quality: natural, fresh, and pure. In comparison, cosmetic-grade ingredients are no longer suitable for human nutrition. When designing new products, we start from the thought of how to complement the nutritional ensemble of our skin—just like healthy food. Also, in addition to favoring food-grade options, we always choose ingredients with scientific proof of supporting healthy skin.

Radiant Life: Let’s go over these principles one by one. What kind of a difference does it make?

Kirsi Kaukonen: Think of a glass of freshly pressed orange juice: delicious and high in nutrients—that is our goal. All our products are freshly blended using gentle, artisanal methods to protect the natural effectiveness and potency of the nutrients. We produce at least 12 batches of our products annually, and ship orders to our customers right after manufacturing. We produce our products in our own laboratory in Finland and ship globally to our customers within one or one and a half weeks from ordering. This is also a way how we want to respect and cherish valuable resources by producing our products according to demand; we minimize any leftover products and also avoid long periods of warehousing.

We choose food-grade ingredients, and you need to really deep-dive into the ingredients to find the best and unique ones to harness their characteristics for skin care products. And honestly, I think we have done it very well.

Freshness and food-grade was not enough for us. We wanted to really know what we put on our skin. Just like a top chef can describe the origin of the ingredients used in a gourmet dish, all our ingredients are 100% traceable.

We look for nutrient-rich ingredients from the best suppliers and manufacturers. We have carefully hand-picked the best ethical producers and small organic farms around the world. Over 50% of the ingredients come from Nordic countries, including Finland, which is famous for its pristine nature. We are not satisfied with mediocrity, and always seek the best.

And if you already use the best ingredients in the world, why add anything extra? We want to cherish the natural microbiome of our skin by saying “no” to additives, alcohol, synthetics, and preservatives.

All our products are made here in Finland, in Espoo, in our own laboratory. We do not use third parties and have not outsourced any of our products. This gives us flexibility and the quality we want to offer to our customers.

Radiant Life: Tell us about some of the specific ingredients you use. Where do they come from and how did you pick them?

Kirsi Kaukonen: The sea buckthorn oil we use comes from a family farm in northern Finland. The rugged natural conditions of the North and the “nightless nights” give the berries an exceptional amount of antioxidants and other nutrients. That’s what we want for our skin. Our sea buckthorn oil is cold-pressed from fresh whole berries and naturally provides abundant amounts of beta-carotene—a vitamin A precursor—E vitamins, omegas 7, 3, 9, and other nutrients. The color in the oil speaks of nutrients. The color of our oil is deep orange, and its taste is intensely berryish and rich in texture.

Italy has always been one of our family’s favorite destinations and it was natural that this is where our olive oil comes from. The olive grove where one of our olive oils comes from is near Naples. Our producer produces exquisite olive oil, pressed from a single variety of green olives, with the highest antioxidant content and the lowest acidity that comes from pressing within 24 hours of harvesting. Our olive oil, just like our sea buckthorn oil, is bursting with nutrients, promoting the well-being of our skin and slowing down premature aging. Naturally, using the best ingredients brings a very different cost structure to our products, instead of using cosmetic qualities that are much cheaper. It is like with fine dining: We pay more for the ingredients used in a gourmet dish than in a chain restaurant.

(Courtesy of Niki Newd)
Niki Newd facial cucumber. (Courtesy of Niki Newd)

Radiant Life: How long can fresh skin care last? Will this change skin care routines and habits?

Kirsi Kaukonen: We recommend using our creams, balm, and oil serum within 6 months. They could last longer, but they are at their best when used as recommended. Would you find an artisan baker who would say that the bread is still at its best after a few days? No, they want you to enjoy the texture, aroma, and taste of fresh bread.

The Skin Cream and Skin Mist we recommend being used in two months, to be able to enjoy the ultimate freshness of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Most of our products are stored at room temperature. Only two products, Skin Cream and Skin Mist, are stored in the fridge, like fresh food. The fridge is an excellent place to store these two products and keep their exceptional freshness and nutrients.

Radiant Life: Tell us a bit about your own skin care rituals.

Kirsi Kaukonen: My skin care ritual is very simple. I rinse my skin with cool water in the morning and usually apply a cream cocktail to my face. Usually, I want to boost vitamin C to my skin, so the morning cocktail of creams consists of our Skin Cream to which I add one or two other products to make a perfect mixture. My skin tells me which products it wants. If I work at home without makeup, I might add some balm to my cheeks and lips during the day. In the evenings, I always wash my face with our oatmeal soap and apply a cream cocktail. Mostly during the weekends, I regularly make a masque a few times a month. Basically, my skin care routine is very straightforward, as I can put the same products around the eyes, the décolleté area, and the rest of my face. My skin tells me which product to use when and where.

Radiant Life: What other healthy lifestyle rituals do you incorporate into your life?

Kirsi Kaukonen: I try to eat as healthy and simple as possible during the week, and during the weekends, I give myself freedom. I follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet because I feel much better then. Sports have been a big part of my life. I competed in cross-country skiing until I was 16, and ever since, I have enjoyed sports. At this moment, I do reformer Pilates, take long walks, and swim. When my body is stressed or tired for some reason, I also do breathing exercises that help me focus and find a calm relaxed feeling.

Radiant Life: What other values or philosophy did your mother and grandmother pass on to you?

Kirsi Kaukonen: My mother and grandmother were very different in nature, but their values were very similar. I am sure that the experience of war and how to cope in wartime influenced their values and philosophy of life. I have been encouraged since childhood to try my best and believe that “I can,” and, in bad times, to be resilient and have trust that all things will work out. And perhaps the most important values that I am very grateful of are that both my mother and grandmother always emphasized the importance of taking other people into account, showing love and warmth, and the idea that we are all cared for.

Radiant Life: Please tell us more about yourself. What is your background? Where do you get your inspiration?

Kirsi Kaukonen: I hold a MSc in civil engineering and am a former photography model. I funded my studies with modeling, and I really enjoyed my profession because it allowed me to see unique places and meet a lot of interesting people. After graduating, when my daughters were young, I worked as a project director in the IT field, and during that time, Niki Newd was created little by little.

I started developing skin care products with my friend, who has a Ph.D. in microbiology. Making masques and creams during weekends with her was our own quality time and a way to relax. That prepared us for Niki Newd, and most importantly, the philosophy of fresh skin care was born during that time. When I was working in the IT sector, I never felt like it was my true passion, but now I am so grateful that Niki Newd is part of my life. I am feeling that I do what I have always wanted to do with all my heart and for the rest of my life.

I am very visual, and I like to create images and ideas. In addition, I am very curious, and follow a wide range of different events, and I exercise a lot in nature and outdoors. It’s wonderful and inspiring to create a unique concept, but I need to keep in mind to take breaks, take long weekends for recovery. It’s a way to keep your life in balance and the creativity and inspiration flowing.

Radiant Life: There has been a broader trend toward natural skin care. What are your concerns about the general skin care market when it comes to ingredients and quality, and most importantly, how they impact people’s skin?

Kirsi Kaukonen: I would love to answer this question by asking further questions. What would happen if all manufacturers of skin care products listed the ingredients of their products in the native language instead of Latin, and openly stated the percentages of water, preservatives, fillers, fragrances, and additives in their products? If we go beyond this line of thought, how many manufacturers could tell us about the traceability of their raw materials? And last but not least, how many manufacturers would be willing to state how fresh their products are? I am particularly proud and glad that we do not have to hide behind anything at Niki Newd. Instead, we can really answer every question mentioned above.

In conclusion, what worries me most is that most consumers are influenced by the mass market and mass-market players. It remains to be seen how we small players will make our voices heard and increase consumer awareness. It would probably require at least one big player to set an example for others.

Radiant Life: Your products can now also be found in some establishments here in Finland. Could you tell us more?

Kirsi Kaukonen: We have launched, for the spa and beauty sector, a “Nordic tasting menu for the skin” spa concept, which offers the customer a unique, holistic skin care experience. In the main roles are fresh skin care products, the special expertise of a beautician, and a relaxing treatment environment.

All products are made to order for the spas and for their needs. Treatments are customized to meet their and their customers’ desires. There is clearly a rising trend where users of select skin care products wish to switch to more natural alternatives for products and treatments without the need to sacrifice effectiveness. We meet this demand perfectly.

I hope users find products that feel wonderful, genuine, and caring on their skin, and that they also feel that they get a natural glow to their skin. And, of course, I hope to hear feedback that their skin has never looked so good.

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People Lifestyle Uncategorized

The Pioneer of Picture-Perfect Bedding

Mary Ella Gabler moved from small-town Pennsylvania to the Big Apple in the 1960s. Her plan to work as a flight attendant in New York fell through, but she didn’t run back home. With hard work and perseverance, she became one of the first two women licensed on the NY Stock Exchange.

When she later moved with her husband to Dallas for his work, Gabler began making patchwork pillows from home, and it wasn’t long before she turned that cottage industry into a burgeoning enterprise. Her first big break came through a friend working at Neiman Marcus who thought her pillows would be perfect for the store’s Fête des Fleurs (Festival of Flowers) theme. Now, her brand of luxury linens, Peacock Alley, is sold in major department stores and other outlets globally, and the brand is credited with changing the way Americans dress their beds.

“Relationships are such an important part of business success,” Gabler says. It’s a point she also emphasized in her autobiography, “Uncommon Thread,” writing, “Throughout my life, one thing has been paramount—relationships.”

“Whether it’s your relationship with people you work around every day, or the people that you sell your products to, or the people who help supply what you’re producing, I think nurturing those relationships is so important,” she says. “You really do help each other in good times and in bad times.”

It wasn’t until the 1990s that Gabler discovered another key to boosting her success, and she wishes she had found it sooner. “Get better financial advice,” she says she would tell her younger self. “Build more of a financial cushion. If I had had better financial advice on an ongoing basis, I would have been more consistently profitable over the years. We tended to have highs and lows seasonally.”

One of her toughest times was in the 1990s during the national savings and loan crisis, when her loan was up for review as institutions were looking to close less profitable accounts. Peacock Alley was still growing and only marginally profitable at the time, and Gabler recalls sitting at a big conference table in a banker’s office, feeling like she could lose it all.

But she had an appointment with her financial advisor—and bringing him in was one of the best decisions she ever made. He told the banker, “‘We owe you this much. You can either shut us down now and you’ll never get any money really, or you can give us a year to pay it off. We have a plan here that we can do this,’” she says.

“I remember working so hard every month to exceed the amount that I had to pay the bank back,” Gabler says. “It helped the bank. It helped us internally. I think it helped everyone I was working with to have more of a positive attitude about what we did. I think it helped the relationships with the people we owed money to because I made sure that everyone got paid back the money that we owed them, and a little more. Those are the kinds of relationships and trust that are important to build over the years.”

Although it took a lot of hard work to pull through, she had help and motivation from her employees. “I always felt this responsibility that these people I work with and had a relationship with for so long—there are a few that are still with me for 50 years—and you think about them and their families and how responsible you are for supporting them. I think that was also a driving force.”

Early Lessons

Gabler learned as a child the importance of treating people well and nurturing relationships in business. Her father and his brothers ran a furniture business together, and “they treated each other with such respect,” she says. “I don’t ever remember a time where there was a harsh word between the brothers.”

She recalled another lesson she learned from watching them. They had sent one of her cousins off to college, paying his way, with the idea that he would return and apply what he learned to the business. When he graduated and returned home, “He went into the store all excited about working there,” Gabler says. “My father handed him a broom.

“My cousin said, ‘Well, you didn’t send me to college to go and sweep the floor, did you?’ My father said, ‘This is your first lesson: You do whatever needs to be done, and the floor needs to be swept for the customers.’” Gabler gets right in there with the seamstresses and doesn’t just make executive decisions from afar, she says.

Her family wasn’t interested in bringing her into the business because they saw it as the men’s responsibility. She studied physical education in college, and especially loved tennis. “It’s such an individual sport. It depends on how hard you try and how much effort you want to put into it. I think maybe from that I learned that I’m the one ultimately responsible for what I do.”

Gabler says that after college, her father “thought I would probably come home and get married. That’s not what I was interested in.” Instead, she sought adventure in the big city. “It was exciting. I wanted to get out of the small town where I’d grown up,” she says. “That’s an excitement I still feel today when I go to New York. There’s an energy about it.”

Lessons in the Big Apple

(Courtesy of Peacock Alley)

Gabler’s first job was as a switchboard operator for an all-women public relations firm. “I graduated to serving tea to these women in the afternoon. It was so interesting to watch their business grow.”

Then, she had an opportunity to work as a receptionist for a firm on Wall Street. “They were very dynamic men in that business,” she says. “The more I worked with them, they could see an ability in me to try harder, work harder, so they offered to send me to this school to learn what I needed to become registered [on Wall Street]. It was a little bit scary, because it was a whole world I didn’t know much about. But, then again, I found the excitement of it.” That chapter in her life taught her how to weigh business decisions, which later helped her linen business evaluate the risks and benefits of opening accounts with customers.

Eventually, Gabler was able to identify a hole in the linen market, and fill it.

Building an Industry

(Courtesy of Peacock Alley)

Working with Neiman Marcus, Gabler started to change America’s approach to the bedroom. Bedding was rather plain and utilitarian at the time, she says. But with Neiman Marcus, she was having “conversations about how to add fashion to sheets and bedding. What can we do to the rest of the bed to make it prettier?”

Bed skirts weren’t being made at the time; she made them. Pillow shams and blanket covers made it easier to dress up the bed. Today, these ideas are much more widespread. Peacock Alley (named for a restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City—a tribute to the city’s influence on Gabler) prides itself on quality.

The company’s linens are finished by hand in Dallas. Imported materials are carefully inspected. Each product takes about a year and a half to develop, Gabler says. Her style is based on the “little black dress” concept: “You start with the best basics that you can and build from there, like you do with your wardrobe.” She adds different seasonal colors and designs onto the strong base she has established.

Her two sons now run the business, though Gabler remains involved, especially in product development. It was hard raising her boys and growing her business at the same time, and Gabler counts it as one of her successes that her sons decided to join her.

Regarding balancing business and family, she says, “There really is no balance. Just put one foot in front of the other and do what you can fit in. When you’re raising your children and you can’t make them lunch or go to a basketball game or whatever, you deal with the guilt for that or wonder how that’s going to affect them.” Having talked to her sons about it as adults, “They don’t see that as a negative, so I’m glad to hear that,” she says.

Gabler promotes self-care in her company culture, and describes the legacy she hopes she has established: “I hope we can be known for our integrity and quality. I think trust and transparency is so important with whomever you’re dealing.”

Gabler’s Tips for Sheet and Towel Care

(Courtesy of Peacock Alley)

Iron your sheets. Even if you only have time for doing the pillowcases or the top sheet, you’ll experience your sheets the way they are meant to be. Ironing helps the fibers lay as they were intended and makes the fabric more soft and supple. If you really want to treat your guests, bring your sheets to a laundry for pressing.

Wash new towels with vinegar. Towels are shipped in potato starch. To remove the starch and make the towels more absorbent, add 1 cup of vinegar along with your detergent when you first wash them. Vinegar, as a natural disinfectant, can also revive old or musty-smelling towels.

 

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Featured Lifestyle People

Sheetal Sheth Says Honesty Helps Kids Through Hard Times

Actress and children’s author, Sheetal Sheth, writes about “real things in a real way.”  She says that she doesn’t do abstract stories about “unicorns and dragons.” The “real things” in her children’s books include illness, death, racial differences, and conflicts between the sexes. Her characters—including an Indian American girl in Sheth’s popular Anjali series—deal with these real-life situations.

Sheth herself has had her own poignant experiences with these topics. Growing up in small-town America as a first-generation Indian immigrant, she felt uncomfortably different. She understands how important it is for children, including her own, to see book characters who are similar to themselves. “I make a point to curate books and the things that [my kids] watch so that they do see themselves. We’re watching stories of people who are us, and not us, because we want to … create empathetic kids,” she said.

As a woman in Hollywood, she has faced #MeToo situations, and therefore, understands how important it is to teach children respect between the sexes. She is also a cancer survivor. Her children were 2 and 4 when she was diagnosed, and she understands how important it is to help children cope with serious illness.

(Lux Aeterna Photography for Radiant Life)

On Illness

“I looked for [children’s] books about illness and death, and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t abstract,” Sheth said. Her newest book, “Making Happy” (set to publish in the fall of 2022), is about a girl named Leila whose mother is battling illness. Leila’s family gets through these hard times by finding joy and laughter together. Sheth’s advice to anyone helping children cope with illness is: “Tell them as much as you think they can handle. I’m all for being honest, but also in an appropriate way. Tell them that you’re feeling all the same things they are, that you’re scared too, and that you’re going to go through it together.”

As a young mother coping with cancer, Sheth had her unique challenges. One was the recovery from her double mastectomy. “The hardest part was that I couldn’t hug my kids for a long period of time,” Sheth lamented. “It’s really, really difficult not to hug your children.”

She received her diagnosis in 2018, on Christmas Eve. “I was with family, and so I wasn’t really ready to talk about it—but I was in it, so I kind of had to,” she said. During the holidays, things were closed, and medical staff were out of the office, so it was hard to get answers at a time when she had so many questions. That struggle is in her past, yet always present. “I don’t think you ever really overcome cancer,” Sheth explained. “I think you live with it. Once you have cancer, it’s part of your life.”

On Racial Differences

Earlier that same year, Sheth had published her first children’s book, “Always Anjali.” Anjali struggles with how different her name is. It’s not on any of those novelty items you see in gift shops with names printed on them: like Jennifer or Joanne or Sarah. Nobody knows how to spell Anjali, and one boy makes fun of her, calling her “peanut butter ‘and jelly.'”

Anjali wants to change her name to Angie, but her parents teach her about her name’s beautiful Sanskrit origin. It means “a gift, the most precious kind, just like you,” her mother tells her—and Anjali learns to wear her name proudly. People in showbiz have also asked Sheth to change her name to something more “American,” and she has always refused.

(Lux Aeterna Photography for Radiant Life)

The issue of changing names is something many children go through across the board, Sheth said. She has volunteered at children’s organizations and, she says, “I worked with kids on a regular basis who told me they didn’t fit in, or they had to change something about themselves to fit in, and that narrative is something I heard over and over and over again. And I thought, ‘Is there a way to put this into a book?'”

Anjali’s experience has resonated widely. “Always Anjali” won the 2019 Purple Dragonfly Storybook Grand Prize, voted on by teachers and librarians.

Growing up Indian American, Sheth said that she felt “a push and pull. Are you Indian enough? Are you American enough? Who are you?” Her parents wanted to protect her from being too “Western.” But that was impossible, growing up in the West. Also, she felt they had a romanticized vision of how India was when they left. It had changed since the 1960s. Her parents raised her with a strong sense of community, which led her to a service-oriented life, always working with nonprofits.

She learned the magic of Indian culture, as Anjali does in her book, but she also appreciated being American. When Sheth’s first child was born, she started looking for books that featured children of various ethnic backgrounds. But the books she found were “inaccurate, insensitive, or just plain wrong,” she said. That’s what motivated her to create Anjali.

(Lux Aeterna Photography for Radiant Life)
(Lux Aeterna Photography for Radiant Life)

On Boys, Girls, and Big Feelings

Sheth’s second book, “Bravo Anjali” (published in September 2021), has Anjali learning to play the tabla, a traditional Indian drum. It’s usually played by males, and the boys in her class are jealous of her talent. She tries to hide her talent to avoid jealousy, but she also becomes angry and hurt. Anjali and the boy who was most jealous and mean, talk to each other and resolve their conflict, healing their friendship.

Sheth says “Bravo Anjali,” is “really about teaching our kids, boys and girls, how to talk to each other when they’re having big feelings.” Many children feel like crying and bursting out with anger, though we often tell them to calm down, she noted. Sheth tries instead to recognize those feelings and help children work through them. “Having big feelings is a good thing,” she said.

(Lux Aeterna Photography for Radiant Life)
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People Lifestyle

With Joy and Consideration

Radiant Life: In the past several years, your philosophy of tidying has really captured attention and has been adopted by people all around the world. What do you think really resonates with people about this philosophy?

Marie Kondo: The KonMari Method™ is more than just organizing; it starts with physical objects, which are often just symbols of the larger self-reflection we need. Evaluating the things that spark joy in our lives to help us achieve the vision we have for the lives we want to live is a part of the KonMari Method™ that I feel people really appreciate and resonate with the most.

Radiant Life: What are some of the early influences that attracted you to tidying and organizing?

Marie Kondo: Tidying is something that I learned from my grandmother at a very early age, and she was always such a big inspiration to me. She was so careful and considerate of the things she owned, and that level of intent and care is now deeply rooted in the KonMari Method™️. If I can personally help people tidy and see positive changes in other areas of their lives, then I feel like I have done what is needed, while also honoring my grandmother’s memory.

(Courtesy of Marie Kondo)

Radiant Life: When people go through the process/apply the KonMari method, they seem to have a lot of epiphanies. Many people start to realize that it’s not just about things; it’s about living and lifestyle. Was this always the starting point for you? How do you encourage people to think about lifestyle?

Marie Kondo: As a young girl, I was truly captivated by the craft of organization after reading “The Art of Discarding,” a bestselling book in Japan at the time. Being inspired from this book, I really started to explore tidying more seriously, and at that point in my life, I thought that tidying was mainly about discarding. I remember once during a difficult tidying session, my body became heavy, and I ended up passing out on the floor. After several hours, I thought I heard a voice telling me to “look at the items carefully and closely,” and in this exact moment, I realized I had an epiphany. Instead of looking for reasons to discard an item, I should be looking for reasons to keep them. Right then, I knew that tidying was so much more than just cleaning and discarding items. It transformed into focusing on the things and moments in life that spark joy.

When applying the KonMari Method™️, it’s important to remember that you are not choosing what to discard, but rather, choosing items to keep items that speak to your heart. Through tidying, people can reset their lives and make sure they’re spending the rest of their lives surrounded by the people and things that they love and cherish the most.

Radiant Life: In your method, you mention some procedures and rituals. Tell us about the importance of rituals and how they can change the way we look at things?

Marie Kondo: Before you can truly care for another person, space, or object, you have to know how to take care of yourself, which is where the importance of rituals come into play. I prioritize daily rituals that enable me to honor my whole self, because when the body, mind and spirit are in alignment, I can easily sense what sparks joy in my life each and every day. I have many different rituals that I perform throughout the day to help me maintain a rhythm, and I always encourage others to do the same. My morning ritual is one of my most important routines as it sets the tempo for the day ahead. I often begin by opening a window to let in the fresh air and then lighting incense. My favorite incense scent is yuzu because the smell of citrus brings energy and ease, which always helps me meet the day joyfully.

Radiant Life: How does tidying and organizing affect one’s mental state and life, and why?

Marie Kondo: The KonMari Method™ helps explore the depth of personal matters and emotions through tidying. Tidying is as much about evaluating the things that bring you joy as it is about the past that you are ready to let go—it’s about making room for the future you envision for yourself. Through the tidying process, you confront yourself and determine what is most important to you, all on your own. It’s important to be open-minded when tidying. Think about what the KonMari Method™️ can bring to not only your physical space, but your life as a whole.

Radiant Life: What is something you do every day that sparks joy?

Marie Kondo: Every morning, I start my day by opening up windows to let some fresh air in and also burn incense to purify the space. It signifies the start of the day, and this is a ritual that I have been doing for years. I also love taking a walk around my house every day with my kids and enjoy nature.

Radiant Life: In 2015, you were named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. Decluttering was having a moment! What sort of cultural shift were you seeing from your perspective?

Marie Kondo: What a great honor this was! Since that time people have become more easily accessible through the digital lives we lead. We are also more influenced by things that may bring joy, including other things that do not; it can sometimes be overwhelming. I think the KonMari Method™️ still applies to people today. The Method allows people to revisit the things that truly bring them joy and discard the things that no longer serve the life they envision, which is as important today as it was back then.

(Courtesy of Marie Kondo)

Radiant Life: You also have some beautifully curated and designed product collaborations. How has your career in tidying helped you think about design and designing these items used in everyday life?

Marie Kondo: Even things that may seem purely necessary for function can be beautiful. When working on product collaborations or selecting items to be featured on my website, KonMari.com, I always make sure the items chosen are based on both form and function. The items curated are always aesthetically pleasing and also functional for the best chance at sparking joy for people. One of my favorite collaborations with the Container Store that represents this best is our Shoji Collection. These bamboo organizers are functional, sustainable, and elegant, and are inspired by the lattice work in traditional Japanese room dividers, known as “shoji”. They are perfect for storing, sorting or displaying in various spaces throughout the home.

Radiant Life: You’ve also written a children’s book – what are some memories from your childhood that have influenced memories you’ve tried to create for your own children?

Marie Kondo: When I was little, I imagined being a good mother to my children one day, just as my own mother was to me. I also had a very strong bond with my paternal grandmother, Oba-chan (grandma in Japanese), and feel lucky to have had so many good role models throughout my life to demonstrate to me how to best take care of children. One of my nightly rituals with my kids has always been to read books together, and believe it or not, their favorite book to read is the children’s book I wrote, “Kiki & Jax.” I wrote this book with my children in mind, so it brings me much joy when they ask repeatedly to read it with them before bedtime.

(Courtesy of Marie Kondo)

Radiant Life: How can people learn more about your method?

Marie Kondo: If you are tidying for the first time, I’d encourage people to read my first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or watch the digital tidying course KonMari Method™: Fundamentals of Tidying. In the book and in the course, I break it down into simple steps so you focus on the fact that the outcome of tidying isn’t simply a tidier space; tidying can change your life.

Many people may not realize but we also offer a KonMari Consultant Program. I’m extremely proud of the Consultant Certification Courses we developed to teach people how to become professional tidying experts. We have over 700 certified KonMari Consultants in over 54 countries. I love that I can share my expertise with the world to help bring joy into more peoples’ homes through the KonMari Method™! This is also a great option for people who might be looking for a secondary career that brings joy to others.