Interview with certified KonMari Consultant and professional organiser Esme Fisher
Find out how Esme Fisher had an ‘awakening’ after having her daughter, and retrained as a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organiser.
What’s your career background?
I worked in the design industry for 15 years. I started out at the Design Council in my early twenties and then worked as a project and client manager for three design agencies after that which specialised in service design (designing the consumer journey), design strategy, package design, product design and branding.
Although I have now changed career path to become a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organiser, there are a number of skills from my previous career I have taken with me, especially when it comes to working with people and understanding their needs and goals (it’s just like taking a design brief!).
Managing design projects over the years has honed my organising skills and I have a natural eye for detail and aesthetics which comes in handy when transforming my clients’ homes.
How did your career change after having children?
Having my daughter three years ago completely changed my outlook on life. It’s hard to put into words, but I call it an ‘awakening’. I realised there was a big wide world out there beyond the bubble I had settled in for so many years. It certainly changed my priorities in life!
I was made redundant whilst I was pregnant. The company didn’t know at the time of the redundancy so there was no wrongdoing on their part, but business wasn’t doing well so they let quite a few of us go before finally selling up. In hindsight it was a blessing in disguise as I was able to go on maternity leave early and I had two years at home with my baby daughter until I decided to look for work again. Thankfully my husband was able to support us in the meantime.
I found a part-time freelance Design project management role with a lovely lady who had just set up her own branding agency. I could work from home and it was a great introduction back into the world of work.
I knew I didn’t want to go back into a big design agency again – as much as I loved working with my colleagues and previous clients I just wanted to try to find a new direction.
Also the long hours I had worked in agencies previously just weren’t possible with a small child to look after and my husband works as a pilot so he’s away a lot.
I wanted to find a career where I could help people and make a difference. I didn’t want to to be stuck in an office behind a computer and I wanted to find a work life balance and enjoy my new family. I wanted to find a job where I looked forward to going to work in the morning and in truth, I really wanted to start my own business!
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I’ve always been a good listener, someone my friends would talk to and seek advice from. I tend to put other people first and it brings me great joy when I’m able to help others.
I was thinking about training to become a coach or counsellor when I re-connected with an old friend of mine on Facebook that I worked with years ago at the Design Council. She lives in Australia and had left her long-term career in Design and Advertising to work as a KonMari Consultant for the last 4 years.
I had read Marie Kondo’s books and seen her Netflix series but I hadn’t realised she also had organising consultants across the globe. My friend said I was just the right sort of person to be a consultant and that I should apply for one of Marie’s training courses. It sounded like the perfect fit and was the first ‘business idea’ that had really fired me up.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese tidying guru, global phenomenon, best-selling author and Netflix star. Marie is the creator of the KonMari Method™ – a system of simplifying, tidying, and organising your home.
The key points of the method are to make positive choices about what items to keep, to tidy by category rather than location, and to make sure everything has its place in the home (otherwise this will lead to more clutter). It’s a game-changing state of mind and way of life!
KonMari Consultants are like personal trainers for decluttering and organising your home. We don’t just come into your home and tidy but we teach people to do it themselves and to surround themselves with meaningful items that bring them joy.
By decluttering the physical space (the home), we create more mental space and reduce the overwhelm and anxiety that clutter creates.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
The KonMari training course is difficult to get a place on – there are only a few courses each year (mostly in the USA) and they sell out in seconds! I managed to get onto one in Los Angeles so I made good use of my husband’s flight discounts, asked the Grandparents to look after our daughter and stayed with an old friend in LA. It all just clicked into place!
The consultant training is pretty rigorous…before you are even allowed on the course, you are required to fully transform your own home using the KonMari Method™ and supply the KonMari team with photos.
The course in LA was a deep-dive into the KonMari world, guiding us on how to work with clients, how teach the method and how to set up our own businesses (we don’t work for Marie, but as consultants we are certified to teach her method).
Following the course we had to take on two practice clients for 30 hours work, submit detailed reports, take an exam and be interviewed by the KonMari team.
Once I had completed (and passed) all of that, I became a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organiser and set up my business: Tidy Coaching.
What’s your USP?
Firstly a certified KonMari Consultant is pretty rare – there are only 23 of us in the UK and only 400 of us in the whole world. We’ve all been through a rigorous testing process and are enthusiasts about the KonMari Method™, having all experienced the results first hand for ourselves.
The KonMari Method™ varies from the usual methods that organisers use to tidy, and Marie Kondo claims that if you follow the method properly, you will only ever have to do it once! This is because it’s a real mindset and behavioural shift and transforms the way you live your life.
For me personally, I bring an understanding ear, an eye for detail, plenty of patience and a passion for helping people.
Who’s your target audience?
My audience is anyone who feels overwhelmed with clutter in their home and doesn’t know where to start.
If you’re always losing things or buying the same items that you didn’t realise you already had, if you can never find anything to wear despite the fact your wardrobe is ready to burst. If you’re knee deep in papers or books, or boxes of items you’ve had on your ‘to sort’ list for years…..then you might welcome some help and support from someone like me.
I often work with people who are moving home, downsizing, preparing for the birth of a new baby, sorting items after the death of a loved one, or generally people who want a calmer, sanctuary of a home that supports their life rather than gets in the way of it.
Tidying is a tool, not the destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want, once your house has been put in order. I take clients on a journey starting with creating a clear set of goals in a visualisation exercise, where they imagine what they want their ideal lifestyle to be.
This is probably the most important part of the process as it helps the client (and me) to understand what they want to achieve, how they want to life their life and what they want their future self to be.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Many of my clients come from word of mouth but social media also plays a big part. Instagram is a great platform for sharing some good ‘before and after’ shots as well as tidying tips and tricks. Facebook is really good too, especially for joining groups that might be interested in what I do. I’ve also done a couple of on-line talks recently for women’s business networks
I’m listed on the KonMari website as a certified consultant and am also a member of APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), and listed on their site.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
I was actually inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and the way the world has adapted to becoming very digital very quickly. It made me think about offering virtual organising sessions, since I can’t go into anyone’s home at the moment.
It has allowed me to go global as virtual sessions can be done with anyone, anywhere (time zones permitting). I’ve just had a client enquiry from Australia!!
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
My own fear of failure, lack of self-belief and imposter syndrome. I have a favourite quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right!”. Success or failure is underpinned by your attitude.
We all have fear and self-doubt, but my advice is to follow your passion, find yourself a cheerleader, and stay positive – (even a five minute google of ‘positive quotes’ can be a good pick-me-up!)
I’m also a total perfectionist, which can be great for my job, but can also be exhausting and very time consuming when starting up your own business. My husband introduced me to the Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule for time management which I am trying to adhere to more and more.
The principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of the work. In other words you need to prioritise that 20% of your input that will produce the best results. It changes the way you set your goals and helps you make the most of your available time – you can’t operate at 100% all of the time.
Lastly I’ve discovered that I’m an ‘Obliger’ (from Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Four Tendencies’). This means that I happily meet the expectations of others, as I don’t want to let anyone down but I forget or struggle to meet my own inner expectations and often let myself down for example, can’t keep a new year’s resolution, don’t go to the gym regularly or always fail to find some ‘me’ time in the day).
It’s really important for me to recognise this and to ‘persuade’ myself sometimes to meet my own inner expectations so as to avoid burnout or self-disappointment.
And your proudest moments so far?
Taking the big leap to start a business. It’s no easy task and requires a lots of time and effort, but I’m doing it, and most importantly I’m enjoying it!
Also, completing my training and becoming a certified KonMari Consultant, and getting my first client.
Why is work so important to you?
My work is important because I enjoy it, I find the psychology behind it fascinating, I get to help people and change their lives for the better, I and I finally feel like I’m making a difference.
Helping someone to declutter and organise their home can often be like being a therapist or a life coach (hence the name of my business) – there are lots of underlying emotional reasons why clutter builds up or why we hoard. Clutter can lead to depression and anxiety and a build up of the stress hormone cortisol.
I want to help people get their lives on track and achieve a happy outcome, to become the person they want to be, and release any ties that are holding them back.
Who inspires you?
Marie Kondo of course – small in stature but BIG in presence. When she first greeted us on the course in LA, you could hear a pin drop. She’s poised, calm, honest and just genuinely wants to tidy the world one house at a time.
When I read her first book ‘The life changing Magic of Tidying’, so much of it resonated with me – her ideas, philosophies and ways of changing lives, I just wanted to find out more. I love Marie’s ethos that tidying is just a journey – it is a means to an end goal. The real magic happens when you create that space.
I also host a fortnightly Skype call with a mastermind group of 15 KonMari Consultants (mostly from my LA course). They all inspire me. We share tips, raise questions and just generally support each other. Without them I would sometimes feel quite lost!
I am very lucky to have had a chance meeting with a lady at the hairdresser a few months ago who has a background in marketing and building small business.
She wanted to ‘KonMari’ her house, so I have been working through the KonMari method with her ‘virtually’ and in return she has been giving me help to build my business. She’s my champion, coach and business inspiration rolled into one!
How do you balance your work with your family?
That’s an interesting question at the moment as things are so different for everyone right now. My husband and I are both home at the moment so we each take two hourly shifts throughout the day to look after and entertain our daughter (she’s only three).
This gives me enough time each day to get on with work. When I’m with my daughter I switch off from work completely and give her my full attention as I want to be fair to her. We all have lunch together as a family as I think it’s important to all be together at some point throughout the day.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
1) Do something you love
Make sure you’re doing something you love, something that motivates you. The journey is exciting but it can be a struggle at times with real highs and real lows. You need that passion and excitement to keep you going – be brave and don’t be afraid of failure, it will make you stronger.
It reminds me of another great quote – it’s from ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss (my husband’s favourite book to read with our daughter): “You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way”.
2) Find your tribe
There’s nothing more motivating and encouraging than finding like-minded people who share your passion. Find people to bounce ideas off, to learn from and to support you when you’re down.
I’m very lucky in that both the KonMari and APDO communities are exceptionally welcoming, supportive and helpful – everyone looks after each other.
3) Learn, learn, learn
In fact never stop learning! I have spent a lot of time in lockdown learning anything and everything to do with running a small business as well as broadening and deepening my knowledge of the world of professional organising. There is always something to learn and there is so much available out there, especially on-line at the moment.
You can find out more on Esme’s website.