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How Organizing My Beauty Assortment Reminded Me of My Greatest Joys

Because the KonMari method not only sparks new joy but unearths old ones, too.
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This is Part 3 of a Four-Part Series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here

Although there were moments throughout my closet edit that brought me joy (what Tricia called 'clickpoints'), clothing is so intertwined with my business that even my favorite personal pieces often have other values associated with it (like how to recreate it for our own clothing line, or how to style it in a new way for an outfit post, etc.). Beauty, on the other hand, is perhaps my first love, beginning with my beloved glitter roll-on and Lipsmackers balm in high school. Despite my longstanding fondness of makeup, the thought of organizing through my beauty products felt nearly, if not entirely, impossible. I'm sent samples in the mail on a regular basis (not a complaint, but organization does become a bit challenging!), gifted beauty by friends, and of course buy it for myself. The thing is, makeup, hair, and skin care is an essential and favorite part of my day, but when I have a mountain of disorganized and misplaced products to wade through everyday, the joy associated with my beauty routine is completely hindered.

Tricia reassured me (maybe more than once) that a system could be created for yet another daunting category in my life. Fortunately, we also went through two other categories — books and paper — that went by more quickly and even gave us a structure for how to organize my makeup (since I apparently have as many lipsticks as I do loose pieces of paper files in the house). 

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apartment therapy hero

Before diving into a new category, Tricia took time to take stock of my current relationship with something. With books, it felt affirming to review our collection and see how each one is a reflection of who we are and what we value. For our family, it was namely fashion, home design, food (we had a lot of cookbooks), and travel. 

Since our entire book collection was all in one place already, and organized by color when we moved into our place, we skipped the steps of removing everything from where it was (as we did with clothing) and putting it into one place. We also didn't do a thorough book-by-book 'joy check' since I wanted all the books for the purpose of creating beautiful home decor, something I personally value as it brings me great joy to walk into our house and see the color coordinated array. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this session was finding underutilized storage space in the cabinets underneath, which leads to our next category....

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The KonMari method highly supports the process of digitizing as much paperwork as possible, if not all of it, from everyday papers like bills and receipts to long-term, valuable papers like insurance policies. There are exceptions to the rule, like a legacy item (your great grandparents' immigration papers), or essentials like passports and marriage certificate, but whenever possible, make your papers digital. 

Fortunately for us, G is great at digitizing (he's a huge fan of Scannable) and going through mail as it arrives each day, but we still end up with small scatterings of paper around the kitchen and family room, which brings us back to the storage space under our shelves. The living room was a great place to put away our papers because, as Tricia pointed out, it organizes like with like (books and papers, instead of kitchen pantry items with papers) and removes the subconscious mental burden of papers from our dining and hangout space. Another reminder that the physicality of our possessions is deeply connected with our mental state of being, whether we realize it or not. 

To organize the papers even further, Tricia pulled out three file holders and labeled them with 'Now', 'Pending', and 'Keep For(ever)'. 

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The first holder captures anything that needs immediate action (which, fortunately, is very little for us, since most tasks can be accomplished online). We threw in a mail-in ballot that was due that same day.  

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'Pending' items need attention, like letters or cards that need to be sent, bills that need to be paid, etc. Tricia recommends establishing a time and day each week to sort through and take care of anything in the pending box. 


This category is a little more subjective but we ended up putting Sloan's preschool phone book. Although G contested that I rarely reference it and could easily insert the numbers into my phone, I wanted to save it for future summer break playdates for Sloan, the mere thought of which made me smile. As Marie Kondo says in her book Spark Joy, “If it makes you happy, then the right choice is to keep it confidently, regardless of what anyone else says.” 

I also had quite a collection of blank cards, notes, and other stationery, which speaks to my love for a handwritten note and giving gifts to friends. We kept all of these, but were able to organize them into event categories so I can more easily grab a 'thank you' versus a 'get well' card. 

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The process for Beauty was generally similar to the one we applied to Clothing. After gathering all beauty-related items from our guest bathroom into our master bathroom, and pulling items from my own bathroom shelves and drawers onto the floor, it's safe to say I felt fairly overwhelmed by the landscape of makeup mountains I was surrounded by. Thankfully, the process was more streamlined than I expected, thanks to Tricia's constant encouragement and the inherent joy I get from seeing my beauty assortment (even while in disarray still). 

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Beyond the obvious categories of hair, eye, lips, skin, and bath, I developed subcategories as we sorted through the piles (the benefit of seeing everything in one place is you can more clearly see how much you have of any given item). For example, we established subcategories of 'eyeliner' versus 'mascara' simply because I have enough to dedicate a tray or container to each, and because I use both items on a regular basis. As we sorted, we added like-category items into different bins. Tricia's favorite organizing bins to use are from Ikea and they conveniently come in three different sizes. 

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I was surprised on two levels as we started to create categories. First, despite the sheer quantity of items to sort through, I had a pretty clear idea of what I like and still use (the 'keep' category), what is old and expired (discard), and what I simply don't like anymore, which made the decision-making relatively speedy and easygoing. 

One of the most surprising and happy parts of this process was realizing I had three very important-to-me subcategories: travel, guests, and friends. I had multiples of many beauty items but instead of giving them away, I was thrilled to create a ready-to-go travel bag that I can grab whenever I leave for a trip or simply need as a backup for a longer day on-the-go. I also loved creating a fully curated selection of beauty products for my guest bathroom, to give it the hotel-feel I've always aspired to. Finally, I stored containers of makeup under my bed as a last-minute gift resource, or an in-house beauty store that friends can "shop" when they visit and need to update their makeup drawer. Since I love travel, hospitality, and giving gifts to friends, all three of these categories sparked joy for me. 

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Since I have makeup items I use on a daily basis, I pulled my top mascaras, blushes, foundations, etc. from their category bins and put them in my top drawer for ease of access. The drawer below was reserved for face masks and nail polish, items I not only use, but also enjoy using, on a semi-daily basis. 

Items that I don't plan to use often (like setting powder) or Shop related items that I needed test but didn't necessarily want to see a reminder of everyday, were placed in my guest bathroom. Even though these sub-categories were organized, it still would have taken up real estate in my own bathroom and potentially caused undue mental clutter. 

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Tricia says keeping things vertical is important for two reasons: It maximizes usage of space and keeps label display to a minimum, thereby reducing 'visual noise' and creating a more calm and pleasing display of products. 

While I didn't sort by color in every category, I loved how it turned out with my lipstick collection. I also wasn't convinced that I needed to sort absolutely everything vertically, since I intentionally buy certain products due to how pretty the labels are, and wanted to see the labels facing out (this is particularly true of bath products). This was a good reminder of how the KonMari method is, well, methodical, but also adaptable to each person's values. 

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I had quite a few expired items, but also a pile of makeup that was still perfectly good and usable. I'm planning to donate to a local organization GTWT but you can also mail in lightly used or new makeup to  Project Beauty if you don't live in LA. 

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Going through these three categories was a good reminder that on a larger scale, I am at an age where I'm confident in who I am and what I like (travel, gifting, self-care in the form of face masks...). 

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Since our home has a mix of personal items and things related to our business, separating work from home so I don't see, and therefore let weigh on me, any work-related items was a mental boost. 

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After going through Clothing, Papers, Books, and Makeup, I've repeatedly stumbled on misplaced or forgotten items that I love (like a belt that was hidden among a box of returns). This was a constant perk of the process! 

Thank you to Tricia Fidler of Heywood Park Collective for contributing her help and expertise to this post! I'd highly recommend her to anyone in Southern California looking to KonMari their own home. You can contact her here and follow her here.

P.S., This is Part 3 in a Four-Part Series on tidying with the KonMari Method. Stay tuned for the final Part 4, coming soon! 

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