Kate Spade Was a Person, Too

Kate Spade Was a Person, Too

I wanted to write a warm and fuzzy blog about Kate Spade today. I wanted to ask everyone that owns a Kate Spade to share their story about the first piece from her they ever bought or received and I wanted to share my own story. I wanted to compile all those stories into another tribute blog. This is not that blog.

I read that “Spade’s suicide was ‘not unexpected’ to her family.” That she had struggled for years with bipolar disorder and family and friends had been begging her for years to get help, but she was too scared to get help because she “feared it would hurt her brand.” This made my heart hurt, deep in my chest. And then it made me angry. And then it made it write.

We need to stop this separation between “brands” and the people that make up the brands.

Have the words “Kate Spade” become a noun? We excitedly say “I got a Kate Spade!” or “This is a Kate Spade!” Brand names aren’t always also the name of their founder. Sometimes brand names are made up words. They’re even occasionally names, but not of any real people. Spade’s was. Kate Spade is her name. Kate Spade was THEN the name of her brand.

Brands are made of PEOPLE. People who have given up time away from families and friends to build the brand. People who have lost sleep for months worrying about their business and building their business. People who have changed our lives because of their brands. People who have flaws and insecurities and depression and happiness and hopes and dreams. People who have forgotten about themselves because of us – the people that purchase their brands. People who have husbands and 13-year old daughters who will now grow up without a mother, but with a constant reminder of her and who she was and how millions of people around the world invited her into their homes. They are living, breathing and capable of change and adaptation.

Without thinking, I can easily rattle off at least 5 reasons not to buy a Kate Spade. Because Kate Spade was depressed and anxious would not be one of them. I’m sure you, like I have, boycotted brands because of things their founder or key workers have said or what they stand for. I’m willing to bet that you’ve never boycotted a brand because it’s founder was depressed. Or because it’s founder wanted to better their own life and needed to take some time to do it. I’d put money down to challenge you to tell me that you’ve ever stopped buying a brand because it’s founder had cancer, or any other disease.

Spoiler alert – mental illness is a disease. It’s not different than any other disease.

Except that it is.

For some reason we have stopped “allowing” people we look up to to talk about it. Or suffer from it. Have you ever known someone to say that they were afraid to get treatment for diabetes because they “feared it would hurt their brand?”

The idea that a brand is anything but the people behind it has to be stopped. Purses don’t make themselves. They are made by people. How did you get your first Kate Spade? You got it because there was a woman that was a creative genius well ahead of her time that an idea. You got it because there was then groups of people that believed in her and made a prototype. That prototype was then sent to designers to make your first purse. Another group of people then manufactured it. More groups of people then sold it into the store you walked into so you could pick up that purse and warm and fuzzy feeling we all felt as we handed over money that we worked hard for so we could carry something with us every single day that meant something to us. It still doesn’t stop there. There are more people that spend countless hours at laptops with dry eyes promoting and tweeting and writing about that purse. And more people then find out about this great influential brand.

Because PEOPLE made it.

I wanted this blog to be a place where we all shared our stories about receiving our first Kate Spade. Now I want it to be a place where we take action. I want us all to share what we will do TODAY to reach out to someone that might be in pain. I want us to all share what WE do when we feel hopeless and what we CAN do to help ourselves and others to feel better. 

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