I generally don’t write overly personal posts, but today I am. I know I am not alone in being so extremely affected by the sudden passing of Kate Spade. A friend texted me on Tuesday and my heart just broke. So I wanted to talk about why this woman and brand have meant so much to me.
I, like so many other women, have been a fan of Kate Spade for years and years. It has always been my number 1 favorite brand – the brand that even though I couldn’t afford to have a lot of it, I always loved more than anything. As a teenager, it felt like the adult I wanted to be. And as an adult it still feels that way. And I think a lot of women feel that way too. I think there are a lot of reasons for this – the joy that her bright, colorful and playful pieces bring. Maybe it is that attainable luxury aspect – the pieces are expensive enough that they feel like a splurge, but not so expensive that purchasing something seems unfathomable (like say a Chanel bag). Or maybe it is because Kate Spade straddles the line between childhood and adulthood – the designs dip into childhood with their whimsical looks but feel grown up, like it is OK to be a little bit of a kid.
I believe I was 13 when I first fell in love with Kate Spade. This was also when I started reading Vogue. She had the most amazing print ads, and I would tear them out and hang them on my doors in my bedroom. I would love to have some of those incredible ads to hang in my house now (I actually have pages from a Kate Spade planner framed and hanging in my entry way). My favorite was of all of these bags that were hanging outside a house. There was just something so magical about it all. I’ll never forget the day I walked into Macy’s and they FINALLY were carrying Kate Spade! I would go by just to look at all the beautiful handbags – like visiting friends.
Kate Spade was the first nice handbag I had. I still have my black nylon messenger bag and pink nylon backpack from high school. I also still have the first pair of Kate Spade shoes I ever owned. They are also from high school – either from 2004 or 2005. I think I saved a bunch of gift cards that I got for Christmas so that I could buy them. I haven’t worn them in years, but I will never get rid of them.
When Charlie and I got engaged, almost everything I registered for was Kate Spade. My nice dishes are black and white Kate Spade (some stripes and some floral). I registered for vases and frames. Our champagne glasses we had at our wedding are the Mr. And Mrs. champagne flutes.
I was lucky enough to work for the company for a short time, in 2011-2012. A store was in Memphis for a short time and I helped open it. Of course, this was a few years after she and Andy had sold the company. During my interview, I was asked why I wanted to leave my current job. I told them I didn’t, but that I loved the brand so much that I couldn’t not apply to work there. Sadly it wasn’t a well managed store, and I left (and then we moved). But it was a great company to work for.
As someone who has also suffered from depression and anxiety on and off for half of my life, it also hit close to home in a different way as well. Mental health is really important. This is a topic I am going to be covering on an upcoming wellness post, since it is something I am pretty familiar with in personal way (not in like a medical way). But we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it. And we shouldn’t just talk about it when something tragic happens. We should be constantly talking about it (among other things, but don’t get me started on that). If you need to talk to someone, please do it. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to, email me.
Here is the other thing – and this is really important – If you know someone who is struggling or who you think could be struggling (because let me tell you, you get really good at faking it), reach out. Be there. So many times when you are in that really dark place, you can’t reach out – you retreat into yourself. So pay attention to your loved ones, ask them how they are and really listen. We have to take care of each other, and sometimes that means helping people that don’t know they need it or can’t help themselves.
And after nearly 20 years of love, I still love the brand as much as I did at 13… actually more. My heart hurts for her daughter and husband and family. She was so incredibly talented and brought joy to so many women’s lives and closets.
And if you haven’t read the interview from 2011 with Kate and Andy that was in Matchbook magazine, it was reposted and is a fantastic read. I remember reading it when it was published – it was around the time I started at Kate Spade. In fact, I am pretty sure I printed out and kept it with me in my Kate Spade planner (the same one that now lives in frames). Also, this article from WWD is really good too.
Whether or not Kate and Andy knew it, they were building so much more than a business. It isn’t just a brand, it is a lifestyle. It is about embracing your individually, encouraging your quirkiness, enjoying standing out just a little bit. She encouraged women to be themselves in an industry that (especially at the time) wasn’t really all about that. Just think about some of those little Kate Spade-isms “Live colorfully”, “Eat Cake for Breakfast”, “She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes”, “She is quick and curious and playful and strong.” It is about being uniquely you and having fun doing it. And I think this is something that speaks to us all.