Kate Spade died this week. Shockingly, at 55, taking her own life, she has left behind many who loved and admired her. This is a sadness that will be unspeakably difficult for her teenage daughter to understand and a loss of years of joy they could have shared. Although she was estranged from her husband, I’m sure he will suffer many hours of guilt and “what ifs” in his future too.
Kate Spade bravely left her job at Mademoiselle magazine as the senior fashion editor and head of accessories to start her handbag business. With little funding and no experience in running her own business, she began with a small collection of six handbags. She found her niche… women who wanted an “it” bag at an affordable price. Original bags were priced between $150-$450 which is not exactly inexpensive, but for a designer bag, it was considered reasonable. I still remember my first Kate Spade bag. I can see it on the middle shelf of a small boutique in San Francisco. It was made of a tweed fabric with the lining in a lovely shade of lavender. Although I have had this bag (left) for some time, I still love to bring it out every fall.
Outwardly, Kate Spade had everything going for her. She had a daughter she loved, celebrity status, creativity, success, a prestigious address and considerable net worth. That, however, doesn’t balance out the demons that live within. Many of us may wonder, “what did she have to be depressed about?”. In recent years the medical community has tried to educate the public about poor mental health issues and how to recognize the symptoms. In spite of their efforts our society still has a stigma of acknowledging mental illness, getting help personally or helping a loved one find professional help. I don’t think we have to go too deep into any family tree to find depression and/or anxiety in the DNA. My own family has not been spared of this illness.
In remembering Kate, I want to become more aware…to pay close attention to conversations I have with friends and family. If something doesn’t seem right I want to find the courage to speak up and offer my help. Maybe this can help save another tragic loss.