On this episode of the Small Business Japan Podcast I interview certified KonMari consultant Hitomi Kinoshita about her business of decluttering people’s lives, reducing stress along the way, and sparking joy in their lives.
Hitomi Kinoshita is a Certified KonMari consultant based in San Antonio, Texas.
She worked at Barney’s New York and Takashimaya as a personal shopper for years building her client list. She then transitioned to Valentino where she was the Senior Sales Supervisor + Specialist for 20 years. With a combined 30 years of experience in the Fashion industry, and serving clients such as Arianna Huffington, Anne Hathaway and Uma Thurman, she has excelled in her field.
Looking for a change, she has lent her skillset to the KonMari Method and launched k i n o c o in 2017. Working with residential and commercial clients, she uses her developed + seasoned eye, as well as her adept ability to interact with all walks of life to create successful KonMari sessions across the United States.
Now, after focusing her attention on the Marie Kondo method from Japan, her mission is to help mindful professionals and busy families simplify through decluttering and live a life that sparks joy.
She flew back to Japan to get certified in the Marie Kondo Method because at that time there was nothing in English in the United States.
When returning she developed a one-on-one business model, which she has pivoted to online virtual consulting.
Shinto beliefs are an underlying theme of the method, which is sometimes difficult for non-Japanese to grasp sometimes.
There are now about 450 KonMari consultants, but in the US Hitomi is one of 3 native Japanese consultants. She uses this to her advantage by respecting and promoting the roots of Shinto and Japan as part of the KonMari method.
Although there is the Netflix special, she still needs to actively spread the word of the Marie Kondo Method. She does this by holding various workshops around.
Marie Kondo’s books:
Hitomi Kinoshita is a certified khomani consultant based in San Antonio, TX. Formerly a fashion advisor and stylist at a luxury Italian brand in New York City. For over 20 years now, after focusing her attention on the Marie Kondo method from Japan, her mission is to help mindful professionals.
And busy families simplify through decluttering and live a life that Sparks joy.
He told me welcome to the show.
Thank you for inviting me.
What is your connection to Japan?
I am Japanese, I was wrong and lazy. Nakago Shima Japan.
So, and I guess, tell us a little bit what is your business?
My business I'm I am a certified comedy consultant.
Our based in San Antonio and the.
That company method is actually is created by Maria Kondo.
An she wrote a book called life changing magic of tidying up.
Yeah, Japanese art of decorating and organizing. OK, yes.
So I guess tell us a little bit when.
Coming from Kagoshima, how did you? How did you end up in the states?
Uh, it's interesting story in the sense is that it's so I was growing up in a koshima going delays there until I was 23.
I had a 11 month old boy baby and my husband and we decided to move not to move. Actually is going to visit New York for couple of months.
To do my husbands previous husbands friend was living in Jamaica, he's a musician and.
So we decided to.
Came and we fall in love with it, and the stayed that was about 35 years ago.
OK, and where did you?
Where did you come to?
Oh, we were in always in New York City.
OK, in Manhattan.
First we stayed in a hotel in the 42nd St. Back then it was very scary and then moved to Brooklyn and came to happen again and.
Many years I was living in the Midtown around the 55th St and 7th Ave.
Wow, so was it?
Because there's a sort of a lively Japanese community and Japanese scene that you were able to feel some type of.
It was, it was it wasn't a large but there is a pocket of the people.
Came to States and working at the restaurants which I was as well I was waitress.
And it was a small. I didn't know much Japanese people that point.
Now yeah, OK, So what was?
Life like for you in New York City.
It was very hard because I hardly spoke English.
00:03:47 Speaker 3
So it was.
It was challenging, but I think it was. I was young enough to just not worry about too much about the people things.
But I think it is so many different types of people live there in a culture and it's such a melting pot of the spot.
I learned so much from New York City and I was very lucky and I I never lived in Tokyo or I didn't travel too much before that. So that was my first major traveling.
And we decided to stay so in a way it was good. It was a good day. No expectations. That sense was wonderful.
Yeah, well, New York City seems like it can be a very exciting place, but at the same time did that sort of wear you down a little bit?
I actually never felt wearing down in a sense actually more give me the more energy from outside.
I think I was very fortunate to have a good friends and the people surrounding me was very helpful and protectors.
That's good, So what was it then that sparked yet another move to Texas?
It's a It's a little long story, but.
Texas is so I was working a lot in New York City.
Um, I was formerly working at Italian fashion designer store at Madison Ave for 20 years and before that is Barneys New York for few years as Stylist.
And I met.
Um, I met my husband through my boss and.
So he got to offer the job to San Antonio.
And so again, it's a new adventure. I never went to Texas. I never been to San Antonio, but I think I believe that life take you somewhere is meant to be you meant to be.
So how long have you been in San Antonio now?
Santonio is about five years.
OK, OK, and you're adjusting to the lifestyle there.
Yes, after first it was a little shocking is booty. Quite sweat slow moves. But people are so sweet and kind.
And the weather is so beautiful. Ah yeah.
But I miss restaurants in New York.
Yeah yeah, pluses and minuses.
OK, so your husband was sort of offered a job to move to San Antonio and so when you came to Texas then what? What were you thinking about doing?
I was still working for the Italian company OK design company. There's any company, so I was being kind of like a personal status, but it's I was doing mobili like and I'm going to visit the New York like a twice a year.
Twice a month for I did that for a couple of years and then I met Maria Condos primary method and I fall in love with it because I was always organizer. I had a passion for organizing and then when I was growing up.
Is my house my parents? The house is always organized. Very minimalist but in in Kagoshima. Was that sense like we fortunate, but it was always opening that small closet so there is a.
Bunch of things is is a cramming in and it's very unorganized. So in the surface is very calm and organized, but inside there was a spot and I always find myself that.
Question I try to organize but never never success and until I met the committee method.
OK, so you.
Went through their training programs and and you were becoming familiar with their their method of organizing method.
Yes, well, first I went to Japan because that point.
There was no seminar was offering in the US, so I flew back to Japan for three times in two months for just the first portion of a process, and then they stopped offering in the states. So I finish it. Complete the process.
In New York City.
Oh God, I see so.
After completing then you've you set up your own business and I guess what are some of the services or revenue streams that you have for your business?
OK Love in your stream is it is a one on one session so it does on person to person. But unfortunately right now is the.
Little bit difficult because of the wireless and so we do more virtual.
OK, mostly so you've been able to translate your business into the on line world as well.
Yes, so yes.
And it is that working with new customers? Or are those mostly?
Previous customers contactually
Is and you customers oh great yes.
People have a more time.
Some people are very cold in team pretty well, which I respect. That and I do it I I do. I'm doing that as well and so yes, and it's for some people is very good timing, but for other people, other other senses, so many more important things.
They have to take care of when the worry about right? A lot of stress.
So I think do you think your method sortof is possibly a way to help with some of that stress?
I truly believe so.
To Mendis Lee will will it is.
But I think it's.
They do need to.
Really grasp the deeper part of it, just a surface in my not gonna help that much.
Be cause if you.
It's a little bit more story behind it. It's comedy messages based on the way the Lococo of it with your coming from the Shintoism.
So it's based on. It's about it's You. Shinto is teaching, nature is a teaching. You how to.
Have a connection and make a harmony to living with all other surroundings right with you and the nature. So I think that point is.
Very hard to grasp for some people.
Ah, that's that's exactly.
A question that I was going to ask because on your website you have an an. I'll read it here it says the konmari method is based on the Shinto belief that all objects both animate and inanimate have a sacred power.
This belief teaches one to live in harmony with nature and your surroundings while being grateful and respectful of all objects. So I thought that was its its very deep and powerful statement which I fully agree with. But I'm wondering if you found that.
Difficult message for some people to understand or.
To appreciate I guess.
Very much so.
So I will talk to the clients. It's in the same way as everybody, but for some people? Oh yes. Yes yes, I understand.
But it's really it's not so.
It's a That's a little challenge, so we I have to. I wait and a little bit of shift in different way to focus on more. But the most of the people do understand the intuitions. OK, so intuition if they can be able to grasp the intuition some way.
Then I think we can be able to work together, but it's if it's absolutely if the client thinks it's this process is, I have to go to do it for her or him. It's not. It's about that person.
The clients it sell themselves have to be committed to going to asking yourself ask your heart what sparked joy for you.
Have you found the? Is this usually a one time experience you have with them? Or are there some people who I don't know? Every every few months or so need to sort of reconnect with you to?
Yes, small percentage of the people do need to reconnect with me too, just to remind them to the point of it right, but that this process is it is. It's a very intense and we recommend to go through it in a very short period of time.
But depending on the People's schedule, some people have focused on the intense in that one Week, 12 weekends, or a whole week. Take a vacation and focus on.
We could be able to go through.
Altogether, but most of the people it's have.
Not that kind of luxury, so they do need to take some parts in the between right? So it sometimes takes couple months, sometimes takes six months.
But it's in Alisme and the schedule they is possibly they can be able to, but it's we recommend it. Much this we could in the short, not too long. More than here.
OK yeah, good good.
So I'm wondering, this sounds like a.
A smooth transition into.
Everything I'm wondering, have you had any mistakes or hurdles or struggles along the way that you had to overcome?
It's so many.
But is the most I think is I was too scared to to contact his client. I was always with crying customer client relation business. It's just a little bit different used to be we are. We are presenting items but now I'm I'm presenting my.
Norwich, right, and uh, I have to be great and it's it's a different different transition. It's it's different delivery methods I I believe, and many times I made mistakes and things. It's too personal because I used to be a more personal point of but the.
Now is my business is going to somebody's private home and I'm gonna be in their space and their life so I just have to.
Keep practicing to be not make a mistake about it.
Did you find it a difficult transition? Having worked in the fashion industry in a company for so many years and now?
Doing your own thing? Your own entrepreneurial journey. What was that like?
I had no idea so many layers of the things you have to do. I still struggle. Time management is Oh my God, it's so difficult, so difficult and you think.
I'm thinking, OK, I I'm not, everything is under control and every time all the time it's more and more responsible dispensability and it was so easier.
The honestly it was much easier to working in the company.
Yes Josh Yeah I.
Agree can understand that there's there's always one more thing you have to learn. If it's you know you, you have your knowledge that you're now. You know wanting to help other people with, but you have to figure out. OK it website.
And SCO and marketing. And so, yes, yeah, there's a there's a lot of moving pieces.
I agree, and I was very fortunate to family and friends and very helpful.
That's good depre.
Um, like my daughter was helping me to build a website from scratch.
Nice, very nice clean smooth looking website.
Thank you so much. I appreciate that she will be happy to hear.
So I guess along those terms, how are you or your business standing out from the crowd and getting attention?
I think is we.
Hey now about 400 to 50 consultants committee consultants in.
In outside of Japan.
OK, and which is wonderful. We can be able to spread the word more quickly.
And the what? Is it different from others is I'm particularly talking about right now, is in adjust the US. I'm the one of the three Japanese Foodie Japanese consultant. Oh OK, I think is the sense of we could.
Grasp little bit more behind feeding and we grow up in the Shinto and Buddhism and Zen and we can deal with more different way to connect to to help too.
Trianz to understand. So I think these are what's differ and I would like to make a, uh.
A point, a big point of it is.
I do respect that core part of it, and I think that is how it started. Where is coming from? So that is my.
Apart from other consultants I see.
Do you have to actively spread the message or importance of the konmari method or at this point, are people familiar with it and are searching for you now?
It's a It's a. I think it's the people actively searching much more after the Marie Kondo had Netflix show called tidying up with Marie Kondo. And then I was very successful and they are beneficial to us.
So people do understand that we do exist an.
So that was fantastic, but it's it's a boast and we still, especially here San Antonio.
Many people said, Oh, I let the book. I saw that, um, the Netflix, but is there is no deeper knowledge yet. So I we still have to actively trying to spread the word or by workshop or.
Interview, Fortunately Josh, you need to me out. Thank you so much.
We have to do a both.
OK, yeah, you mentioned workshops and I'm wondering if you've collaborated with other organizers or health or fashion industry people.
I was thinking about that I'm not collaborating yet, but what I did was I went to visit high school and.
Like a 50 students from Psychology Cross.
And, Uh, I give workshop wisdom and an that was very successful an I really enjoyed. So I do need to. It's that's a great idea, Josh. I think it's I should open my more eyes.
To reach out.
Well, I'm just wondering if.
The program has it. The overall theme seems like it's a little in a Gray area, you know, is it in the? Is it related to health and Wellness or is it part of almost the fashion industry? Or is it sort of like a a home and living?
So it's it seems yeah, with which.
Who do remote to?
Yeah, right, that's true. Well not, it's not going to because my background fashion background client.
Tend to fool people who really doesn't need some attention to the closing or close it.
Beach me because I can advise.
The fashion sense and besides that much and I'm sorry. Of course, of course it's they. They have to choose, but from them I can be able to coordinate what's goes what and also designed the closet in that. That matters, so little bit of fashion.
But I think it's more.
Home slash Wellness I would say.
What is something you've changed your mind about regarding Japan?
Japan, it's just because I was in a small koshima city for so all my life. So my.
My life was very small and I think I was taking a granted so once.
Came to US.
And I recognize much more beauty and appreciate.
About the Japanese cultures and arts and.
Business side over too. When I came was 86 so it was bubble Japanese was buying everything and NYC and um so.
I was very proud. I truly recognized how advanced Japanese culture is.
Yes, and that also opening eyes now, especially here in San Antonio. I have a get in touch with.
The people who are learning teaching E Cabana.
So I'm very interested to try to give an A.
Yes, Oh yeah, it's it's. There's a connection there. Yes, this is a great spot up next we have the shinkon send speed round. I wanted to let you know that as a listener to the small business Japan podcast.
I have created a unique training course just for you. The lifestyle Japan preneur course is all about designing your desired lifestyle 1st and then building your business around supporting that lifestyle for one reason or another. You have also come to find a connection to Japan and are open to learning about how certain Japanese cultural.
Aesthetic and business concepts can benefit your life and business. This is a new way of looking at how your lifestyle and business can intertwine. Whether you're looking to start your business or side hustle, add an element of online to your brick and mortar shop or develop a new way of structuring your current business.
I encourage you to check out the lifestyle Japan preneur course over at the small business Japan website because as a listener of the podcast, this course was designed specifically with you in mind to guide you through the process of transforming your lifestyle and business. I'll see you on the inside.
He told me where were you born?
And where do you currently reside?
San Antonio, TX.
How old are you now?
What do you do for stress relief?
I do boot camp outside Boot Camp, Berceaux outside boot camp.
Five days a week. Wow and meditation. Learning meditation is still very difficult but I'm trying.
What is a Japanese food or drink that you're sort of hooked on right now?
00:27:14 Speaker 3
Right now is my always husband.
But the owner of but there like now is it came back is not go with white rice with low egg and soy sauce.
Great combination, great thank you. Yeah, where was the last place that you vacationed and for how long?
It was in New York City to visit my granddaughter. First granddaughter. I was there for two weeks.
Back in March.
Yeah, beginning with March. OK so it was just the beginning of a coronavirus sweetie.
Yeah, and then.
New York then shut down big time yes, yes.
What book would you recommend for our small business Japan listeners?
I have to say I still do need to. I feel like more and more people can be able to.
Learn from her book life changing, magic of tidying up and also she published a new book called the joy at walk.
Also, it is a collaboration with a nice University professor.
And Maria Kondo herself an would be interesting to see how much we can be able to spread the word and.
To help the office is business as well.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own small business?
First important thing is really trust your passion and trust yourself.
And ask for help me.
In basic terms, what are some of the ideas and philosophies around the cold Monte method?
So combine mess up. The is comprehensive Japanese tidy mess up and it's very simple, but.
It's basically it's you going through.
Your entire home.
Anne confronting 1 by 1.
And then identifying what spark joy to your heart and discovered last with gratitude.
That's important, part is.
Discovered with gratitude, it's not. This is not because.
Everything in you have in your house.
Is a reflection of you right now?
And it's meant to be at your place to try to help you to be succeed an.
Now, so is the konmari method about minimalism I. I think there are a lot of people that think that maybe minimalism is a bit of an extreme lifestyle change. Yeah, I could never use that in the real world.
The answer to that is no, OK.
It's not the minimalism because if we use spark joy example Josh you love socket.
You have a collection of so many sockets and every single socket can give you joy.
So you will keep the joy items with your pride and proud to be keeping them and you on it. You you really take it seriously.
So I don't have to get rid of everything.
00:31:15 Speaker 3
Oh OK, so you have to reflect upon.
All of the different items to see if it really has value for you.
Body use, but so there is at the basic rule is in common metadata is you have to go through by category by category.
So a lot of times in generally speaking, the cleaning method everybody has his room by room.
So we have a category.
Closing books, papers. Miscellaneous in the mementos. If you are sticking with the category and going through the process of one things one items at a time.
I know it takes a long time, but that's the only way you can be able to have a transformation.
Of your life now.
So he told me for you, I'm wondering, did you have a busy lifestyle growing up in Japan?
00:32:26 Speaker 3
Growing up in.
Japan, it's how about the? Let me explain little bit they know how. What was my childhood is like so my parents was divorced three like when I was three and my.
My younger sister was one I believe, and I was with my father and my my sister. My sister was with my mom so I I was always alone.
And always going to the park by myself.
Talking to the people who have dogs or.
Uh, do kids or so.
I was laundy kind of a person. I love people but I think it's not too many kids around me so.
I think he's I was always playing sports when I was since I was 6th grade up to.
The high school so I was busy. OK, it's true. It's true. Longer story so.
It was, yeah.
And you mentioned that you found excitement in New York City.
Yes, especially is what's New York City really taught me a lot is about different scheme racism.
You name it.
In the fashion industry, gay straight.
Bisexual, I met everybody and I think you learn for me too.
To be with everybody equally, so that was a priceless gift I received from that industry also.
Especially, is it?
Difficult issues coming up like now.
Right right now.
An you have a lifestyle change now from living in the heart of Manhattan to San Antonio. Yes. What is your lifestyle like now?
It's a space I can be able to find a little bit more close to the nature.
And bit more I can be able to focus.
OK in myself and try to find my voice from really really deep inside of me.
Yeah, do you think having that space sort of helped lead you to?
Looking for or understanding the komadi method.
Little bit more deeper, yes, absolutely it might be.
It might be a little bit a struggle if I have to be in.
The New York
New York Lifestyle and try to focus it might many people can, but I don't know if I could.
Yeah, now so is there a relationship between tidying up which is a physical activity an does that relate to your lifestyle somehow?
Yes, I think it's every day is actually the for me as a practice to be.
There is no perfect mission. I don't believe, and we're always devolving uh-huh moving forward, changing right? So yes it is. It is very deep connection to my how I live.
Uh, Huh, Yeah, it seems like.
When you think about it, it sounds like OK. This might be a one time thing I clean up and throw away the stuff I don't need and that's it, but in reality.
You know things come and go. It should be an on going process, yes, evaluating.
Absolutely so. But the one thing is I.
Do you need to mention is?
So when you are ready to do Comboni.
Treat treat as.
One time in a lifetime be cause you are pay. You are doing this facing confronting 1 by 1. Hold your entire home.
So you don't have to do that after we do once completely.
On the order followed, the total total method you don't have to and after that is maintenance.
And be cause when example when you go into the closet and you are in every single piece, pieces are spark joy for you.
And you know you feel it. It's not from here on the head. It's from heart from and also from the yoga. You can feel the enjoyment in the joy.
So that will overtime. This is the natural for everyone comes down because you do change like a Josh You said.
Changing more things coming in unexpectedly so you do have to maintain but never like this. But once you're going through the whole process so you don't have to do the same thing, you do not have to do that, and cleaning is much easier. You have much more time to do what you like to do, what?
You want it to be.
You can focus on yourself or your family friends.
Right, so becomes a small part of you and and it's just an on going maintenance.
In a way, yes. And it's a very very. It's not all the time. It's time to time. For some people every six months. Some people every three months, sometimes it's mixed.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to slow down and enjoy life?
I think he is a common method is one thing is a good thing is. I think you can reset your life.
For your going forward great transformation, you can be able to have.
That you organize your past.
And then you're going forward with your.
Only with joy.
That's great. OK, what is something that you're excited about, right?
Now, like now is my most excitement right now is I'm taking a ESL, crushes English second language because I drop off.
Dropped out of high school.
And came to New York.
And I was working 2 jobs to support my kids. Put them into that. Going through the college and that was many, many, many years and now is the finally.
Feels like ready to step. Make a step to study tools to my lifetime goal. Which is I would like to have a diploma.
Great, yes and.
That is my most exciting excitement for the moment and thank you, Josh. I think you are part of it too.
Oh, I'm glad you're you know you're on the show and you're now part of everything here and you know, I hope we can spread the word and you know people can get in contact with you 'cause I think.
You know you have a lot. A lot of world experience that you know a lot of people can learn from.
Thank you so much.
So what is next for you?
So as next for me is I have a couple of plans too.
I would like to focus on the couple of different.
Not a group, but yes, it's one is.
Before and after baby committee. Kind of Selope.
Focus on so the mother who are having a baby or after the baby. I would like to focus on that is, but that is also includes small child with mother at home.
Having a lot of no time in the having a stress, if I can be able to reach that would be fantastic and another focus is for the apartment living people who to create some active workshop.
To the community.com apartment communities.
That's great, that's great.
What is next for your industry?
I think next to is as I mentioned about the book, came out about the business.
Joey had to walk, I think is that people are start to spreading the word starting from home.
And bring it, let's bring it up to the walk. Walk space, right? So I think it's um, I I feel we will see more.
And more session at the business world.
Wow, OK that's great. Is there something you feel that Japan Preneur community should know about that? Maybe I didn't cover.
No, I think you you did cover pretty much everything. It's I really do appreciate that this interview and to get to know you and I love your show.
So thank you and yes.
Oh so many so many episodes I enjoy so much I listen to so many times in the one.
Sticking up for certain.
Everyone connects with different people in different ways.
Need some really really.
Got it's so many different depths of it. Josh, I think it's it's amazing. I think it's.
It's everybody can be able to learn.
From your podcast, yes.
If any Japan Preneurs out there wanted to get in touch with you or find out more about your business, where should they go?
They can go to my website email.
00:43:28 Speaker 3
Which is he to?
[email protected] and also I have folding clinic library account at Instagram which is at the heater under scope.
00:43:55 Speaker 3
Again at Cheeto Hi Tio, under scope KINOSHITH.
And your website address is.
Well, I want to thank you for joining us today to me.
Thank you so much Josh.
I really appreciate it having me.
And will talk to you again.
Yes, thank you so much.
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