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Living Colourfully. The Lessons I Learned from Kate Spade

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I was devastated when I heard the news about Kate Spade's passing yesterday. I was in disbelief for most of the afternoon. After work, as I was scrolling through Twitter and reading articles on her life and career, I found myself getting very emotional. I had never considered how much she had impacted my life until she was gone. 

Kate spade, what Kate spade meant to me,


Like many girls (and boys) my age, my first designer handbag was from Kate Spade. I was working at a garden centre, making minimum wage when I got an email for one of their coveted surprise sales. I wanted something simple and timeless, and after much deliberation with my mom, I opted for a tan satchel purse as a present to myself for landing my first ever job. I used it on a daily basis for years, and still have it to this day. 

Years later, I started a corporate job on a social media team. I was terrified of starting a new job, my first full-time position. I had just finished school and had no idea what to expect in a corporate environment. I opted for a Kate Spade dress on my first day. I wanted to feel confident and empowered while still looking professional. It’s the dress I’m wearing in the picture on my security pass and it’s a subtle reminder every day that you can be a #bosslady while wearing a bow. 

Kate Spade was founded in 1993 in Kate's Tribeca apartment, the year I was born. She cashed in her 401K to make her dreams of owning a handbag company come true, and steadily advanced it into a multi-million dollar business. 

In this vein, I felt like I grew up with the brand and with Kate. As the assortment grew and new retail stores opened,  I too undertook new endeavours in my life. I started junior high, learned new skills and made new friends. There were awkward stages and growing pains, but also learning experiences and opportunities I’d never experienced before. The company was sold in 2007, the year I started high school, but it was like Kate and I were undertaking these changes together. Life was uncertain, but the possibilities were endless. 

Kate spade


To me, Kate Spade represented so much more than a pretty designer brand. Kate Spade, the woman, was an inspiration to me and many other people my age. She embodied the notion that you can be a feminist while still being feminine. That you could wear pink polka dots to a meeting and still be taken seriously. That bringing your work home was less daunting in a floral bag. She inspired a generation to pursue their dreams in the most colourful fashion. 

I hated pink when I was a teenager. I thought it was too girly, too childish. But Kate elevated it to a sophisticated shade, something to be coveted, not mocked. Despite having been removed from the company for 11 years, Kate still represented the colourful aesthetic that I abide by: live colourfully. 

Kate Spade was an innovator, entrepreneur, and inspiration to so many. It’s heartbreaking to think that she shaped my life in such a positive way, yet she was trapped in her own darkened corner. Kate exemplified everything I wanted to be as an adult, and the lessons I’ve learned will remain with me for years to come. 

May she finally find her colourful lining and may she rest in peace. 

xoxo K