Celebrity Organizer Claims Marie Kondo Stole Her Famous Folding Method

Linda Koopersmith says she created the "upright folding technique" in 1991

Marie Kondo, Linda Koopersmith
Photo: Courtesy Linda Koopersmith, Richard Bord/Getty

A celebrity home organizer is claiming that Marie Kondo stole her method of folding clothes.

Linda Koopersmith, who runs a home decluttering business called The Beverly Hills Organizer, says that she created a technique called the “upright folding method” in 1991 — decades before Marie Kondo released her first book or appeared on her Netflix series Tidying Up.

Koopersmith, who appeared on the TV show Clean House on the Style Network from 2003 to 2005, said she showed off the method during her appearance on the series, and people began calling it “the Linda Koopersmith fold.”

She also claims she posted videos of the fold, in which you arrange items so they stand upright instead of laying them flat, on her YouTube channel in 2008. (Marie Kondo released her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2011 in Japan and 2014 in the U.S.

A representative for Kondo told PEOPLE she had no comment.

“I was a single mom living in a one-bedroom apartment with my daughter, sharing our room, and she was always going through her drawers and messing them up,” Koopersmith tells PEOPLE of how she came up with her technique. “That’s when I created the fold, and that was out of need to come up with a solution so when she opened her drawers, she could see everything at a bird’s eye view.”

She continues, “Everything I’ve done has been created out of being presented with a problem and saying ‘let’s make a solution.'”

Koopersmith, whose past celebrity clients include Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and Jennifer Lopez, says she wasn’t alerted that Kondo was allegedly using a similar technique of folding until a few years ago.

“I haven’t watched her show,” Koopersmith says of Tidying Up, which premiered on Netflix in 2019. “However, people tell me. Someone called me two and a half years ago to tell me, so that’s how it was brought to my attention.”

In addition to folding in thirds, Kondo developed the KonMari Method, a whole-house cleaning technique that requires practitioners to go through each item in their home and ask themselves if it “sparks joy.” If it does, it stays. If it doesn’t, the organizer thanks the item for its service before getting rid of it.

Koopersmith says her initial reaction to learning of Kondo’s similar folding method was “shock,” but she claims she didn’t know who to tell about it at the time.

“You kind of go through the spectrum emotionally,” she says. “I didn’t really know what to do about it or how to do it. I mean, I’m not just a celebrity organizer, I organize everyone. I also have a boutique moving company, I’m a designer. I do it all. So I’ve just been busy. I haven’t really known where to go and how to get it out there that [I created it].”

It wasn’t until Koopersmith says she was contacted by the New York Post last week that she decided to tell her story.

“It was the most amazing feeling in the universe that somebody out there knew about me and reached out,” she tells PEOPLE. “I was really happy. The timing was right.”

WATCH THIS: 5 Things You Need to Know About Marie Kondo

As for how Koopersmith believes Kondo first saw her folding method? She speculates that she could have seen it on her show, which she says aired “all over the world,” or read about it in her book in 2005.

She claims that with the technique, there are many “nuances that only the originator knows” such as folding t-shirts based on the neckline and the height of the drawer you’re storing them in.

“I get that precision fold,” Koopersmith says. “Every piece, it’s like cookie cutters. That’s why my fold looks so — I hate to use the word ‘perfect’ — but on point.”

Koopersmith says that aside from their folding methods being similar, her organization style differs from KonMari in almost every other way.

“My philosophy couldn’t be on a further opposite end of the world than hers,” Koopersmith tells PEOPLE. “My philosophy is ‘keep everything you own.’ If you want it, you bought it, keep it. Let’s find a place for it.”

Now that the celebrity organizer has opened up about her beliefs, she says she’s not looking for any sort of apology from Kondo. Instead, she’s just happy others have heard her story.

“My heart is singing because this was my baby,” she says. “I really want the world to know that I created it and I have so much more to share. I have devoted 30 years of my life to the world of organization and I came up with these things to help not just myself, but all of my clients and anybody who sees me.”

“It’s been painful, but it’s been worth it,” she continues. “I guess it’s kind of like child labor. You go through all of that and then you get that baby. I sort of feel like I’ve delivered. So I haven’t really thought about what she’s going to say or not say, but more, it’s about me this time.”

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