Mourning someone you’ve never met has always been a strange phenomenon, and yet today when I received the push about Kate Spade’s sudden passing, I felt like somebody socked me in the gut.
Knowing my love of pretty much anything Kate ever put her name on, the texts began rolling in from family and friends with equally sad and surprised reactions to the news.
In stark contrast to the bright, cheery and more often than not, polka-dotted and bold-striped aesthetic that made everything from boring ol’ dayplanners to umbrellas to computer bags so much more exciting, Kate’s life ended so tragically, so unexpectedly.
It immediately made me wonder what was going on in her life, what grief and pain she must have endured, to feel like a premature goodbye was her only option. I hurt for her family, her friends, and was reminded yet again how being an international success complete with a Park Avenue address doesn’t make anyone immune from the trials and hardships of the human experience.
Beyond making everyday items so pleasing to the eye, one of the hallmarks of Kate Spade’s artistry were the pithy, empowering sayings she included with them. A notebook wasn’t just a notebook, it might encourage you to “make limoncello” when “life gives you lemons” or tell you you’re “so well composed” long before you even wrote anything down.
With the navy handbag adorned with petal pink polka dots that I received for my birthday one year, there was a bright green card enclosed that I taped up in my office. It reads: She is quick, curious, playful and strong. It’s a sentence I’ve probably glanced at thousands of times while working on my novel and quite honestly, feeling anything but quick, curious, playful or strong, but I like having it pinned on my bulletin board anyway. It always reminds me of how I aspire to be.
A couple of months before the new years begins, I always order a new dayplanner — you know, the old-school variety where you write down your appointments and deadlines in the cute little boxes. As much as I rely on my Smartphone for so many things, I like the ritual of making lists and actually writing important things down in my own handwriting.
And if you order one of Kate’s planners, you get a bonus. She includes glossy labels you can stick on days that mark life’s milestones — anniversaries, vacations, your nieces’ birthdays, even just for playing hooky. Before the actual calendar for each new month, there’s also a page that helps set an aspirational tone. To wit, it says “flip the script” before March, “make it happen” before May and for this month, June, “sail into the sunset.”
Although I didn’t know you personally, Kate, thank you for putting your unique stamp on the world and my office. You designed so many beautiful things that made a great number of women smile, myself included. May you rest in peace.