When I think of Kate Spade, I immediately see pastel and bright colors. I also think of sparkle and wonderful designs that inspired many for decades. Now, that sparkle has a little gray attached as well.
On June 5, 2018, Fashion designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade was found dead in her New York City apartment in what was discovered to be a suicide. Spade launched her line, Kate Spade & Co with her husband in 1991, after being Spade was best known for her colorful, often whimsical statement handbags, accessories, and office supplies. She paved the way for many designers and creatives before her to pursue a fashion line and showed you don’t have to emulate anyone to have a successful company. Spade was also an artist first, as she created another fashion line in 2016 after selling Kate Spade in 2007. She often encouraged those who came after her to focus on the “why” of what they were doing, rather than the money or endgame of starting a brand.
When I read about Kate Spade’s death, I felt an intense, immediate sadness. Though I never owned a Kate Spade handbag, her brand was always something I admired and I felt like her audience related to mine. A Kate Spade consumer is young, fun, stylish, and busy, very similar to my readers. Spade herself was also very quirky and in her own lane, something I’ve always related to. The death of Kate Spade is the most recent cases of rich, creative individuals committing suicide. At the time of her death, Spade was reported to be worth $200 million. She had a successful career that spanned more than 20 years, a family, and a brand filled with timeless pieces that have sold in stores and online. According to the many of us creatives who are still working a 9-5 and trying to make time for our loved ones and a passion that isn’t supporting us financially, the fact that someone as successful as Spade would commit suicide is extremely difficult. “She made it and had been making it for a long time, so what is there to be depressed about?” Anyone who expresses this sentiment clearly doesn’t understand depression. When many think of depression, they think of someone in bed staring aimlessly at the ceiling with dark curtains. While this is definitely one way to be depressed, it’s not the only (or even the most popular) way of being depressed.
For many people, having depression doesn’t stop them from getting degrees, going to work, making all of their deadlines, or receiving the raise or promotion they’ve been striving for. Depression is achieving all of those things and still feeling a darkness inside that takes over your mental health. If left untreated, this darkness can cause many people to create self-destructive habits like substance abuse, sex addiction, isolation, and, often suicide attempts or completion. While Kate Spade’s legacy shouldn’t be that she committed suicide, her death can be a reminder for anyone, but creatives especially, to know they are more than their art or their job. They are more than someone’s significant other or parent. We, as humans, are individuals first and have to take care of us, or our demons and pain will manifest, no matter how many material things we have or goals we accomplish.
If you or someone you know is battling depression and want to seek help, there are resources like Talk Space, an app that allows you to chat with a certified therapist through text that is a fraction of the cost of therapy and is convenient for someone with a busy schedule. All kinds of therapy also provide free resources that cover many forms of depression you can have access to. Also, if you have health insurance, see what your options are for talk therapy, as sometimes it can be helpful to vent to someone in an office. If you are having suicidal thoughts, though, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-8255.
My prayers are with Kate Spade’s family and those who have lost loved ones to suicide. May she live on through her art, find peace, and know she left more than a sparkle behind.