I confess that I did not know a whole lot about you before your death. However, I felt like I knew you, through your namesake brand.
The colours always brightened my heart, or at least my day. I’d walk into your store and suddenly feel a little spring in my step. Your ads made me believe in the make-believe. And the slogans — “She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes” or “She is quick and curious and playful and strong” remind me that being strong and feminine do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Prior to your death, you encouraged me. But after your death, you inspire me.
You were relatable and motivating.
With no design background, you started a six item line. Attempting to reflect your vision, you taped pieces of paper together to form the bag shapes you desired and called a burlap supplier in the Yellow Pages.
You were bold and empowering.
Though cautious, you courageously led your brand alongside male-run fashion houses. And through that, you created a sophisticated yet accessible item that women cherished. To many, it was their first “big girl” purchase out of university.
You were conservative yet had complementary support.
In 1993, you hadn’t made enough to cover the booth at a trade show. You considered calling it quits. Yet Andy, your boyfriend-turned-husband encouraged you to see your potential.
And most significant to me, you were authentic and kind.
In the days since your death, I have listened to your interviews. My favourites in particular are through NPR and BUILD Series. Your voice is calming. Andy and your self-effacing outlook is endearing.
Thank you for providing us with this happiness, empowerment, and relatability.
I’m sorry to know that you were not feeling the feelings you created in us through your products. I’m sorry that our society failed you by stigmitising mental illness. And I’m sorry that it is too late.
Somehow, society has made it more acceptable to talk about breast cancer or heart disease. I know when people have these diseases. But, I did not know that you had depression. We rarely know when someone struggles with something of the mind. Why is it that it is more acceptable to talk about complications of the breasts or heart, but not of the mind?
I wish it had not come to this. Your real struggles would not have impacted our perception of the cheeriness that is kate spade new york. We would have supported you, just as you have supported us.
I promise to check in with those close with me more often. To tell them I am here for them. To tell them they are important to me. To accompany them to appointments or something fun. To just lend a helping hand.
Please know that your life made me believe in a lot. It made me believe that I can be anything I want to be. That what makes a life partner is one who is your best friend. That if there is not a way, to find a way. That it’s okay to wear that leopard coat with green gloves. That sometimes the best fashion items are the no-names. That being strong is feminine. That you should “go for it.” That being humble is endearing. That it’s wise to remember where you came from. That being you is the best version of yourself. That being quirky is fun. That being conservative and nervous is okay. That opposites attract. And to be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Your life has given us whimsy, authenticity, and joy. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.