One day last weekend, I sat at a sun-dappled kitchen table and ate my lunch while listening to an interview with famed Irish fashion designer, Orla Kiely, on the radio. I started to think about other successful female entrepreneurs, and it didn’t take long for my mind to firmly settle on Kate Spade – another brave and bold woman who, like Kiely, brought joy and colour and prints and designs into so many other females’ lives with her handbags, clothing, accessories, homewares.
Kate Spade, as she was most widely known, launched her eponymous label alongside her husband Andy Spade in the early Nineties. By 1996, they were opening the doors to their first boutique, in Manhattan’s uber-stylish SoHo district. The brand was partially bought over by Neiman Marcus in 1999, and Kate and Andy sold the label entirely in 2006, when they took a step back from work to spend more time with their young daughter.
In 2016, Kate and Andy began working on a new brand, Frances Valentine, named in part after their only child, Frances Beatrix, who is now just 13 years old. That same year, Kate also changed her last name to Valentine, a family name on her father’s side.
I remember picking out a Kate Spade journal and memo block for my oldest, dearest friend for Christmas just a few years ago; working together with colleagues to carefully choose a beautifully ornate but delicate black and gold necklace featuring weighty, gorgeously gilded flowers on it for our boss’s fortieth – a huge Kate Spade fan (she wore it to her birthday bash a week after we presented it to her, much to our collective glee); internally squealing with delight when my husband surprised me with a gift bag of goodies for our third wedding anniversary a few years ago, exactly one week after we welcomed our youngest son into the world, in it an insulated-tumbler-with-straw, featuring that signature Kate Spade New York cream-and-gold, polka-dotted colourway (it sat by me as a thirst-quenching lifesaver almost every time I nursed in those early months); I gifted each of my three beautiful bridesmaids with a Kate Spade bracelet on the morning of my wedding.
Through her many creations over the years, Kate Spade raised women up through her designs and products. Knew what so many of us wanted in a purse. Saw what earrings would go perfectly with a special outfit. She knew what girlfriends would want to gift girlfriends. Made us feel confident. Empowered. Stylish. Put-together. She got women. Made us feel understood.
There is such a chasm of sadness in her loss, just as there is with any loss that comes in a similar way. In his statement following her tragic and sudden passing, her husband Andy wrote that his wife had suffered from depression and anxiety for a number of years. “She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives.”
Kate Valentine was a woman, a mother, wife, sister, daughter, boss, colleague, beloved to friends and family, who is now deeply missed. Depression does not discriminate. According to the World Health Organisation, almost 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, and it is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29.
In what ways we can all best look out for each other. Care for each other, and ourselves, inside the home and out. In a book Kate wrote called Manners, which was published in 2003, she wrote, “The key is learning the rules of being a goodwill ambassador wherever you go.” What can we do to be everyday goodwill ambassadors to ourselves and others? To understand depression and anxiety better. To end the stigma, and make having healthy and helpful conversations about mental health and wellbeing, and asking for and seeking help when it’s needed, as natural and mainstream as can be.
Our thoughts and hearts are with Kate’s loved ones. With families and friends of people the world over living with a similar heartbreaking loss. With anyone right now experiencing the grip of depression and anxiety. We are working hard and will continue to work hard to #MakeItMainstream.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call The Samaritans in the UK and Ireland, on 116 123; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US, on 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or the Suicide Crisis Line, at 1-800-784-2433; Lifeline in Australia, on 13 11 14.
A bit about Moment Health…
Moment Health is a technology company that aims to prioritise Maternal Mental Health and provide new parents with the tools and knowledge they need to sustain good mental wellbeing – from pregnancy through to parenthood.
The Moment Health app has been developed with clinicians and healthcare professionals. It screens for perinatal, postnatal and associated anxieties, and includes additional features such as a helpful guide to practical and accessible coping strategies.
At Moment Health, our mission is to make maternal mental health mainstream #MakeItMainstream.
Download our App today