On Saturday, Ryan and I ventured to Milton, Ontario to visit the Toronto Premium Outlet stores. Ryan has been meeting with a business coach who has encouraged him to improve the way he dresses. So Ryan and I hit the roads dreaming of big brand name clothing with low discount price tags. As Ryan weaved in between shops, and I became increasingly "hangry," I saw a sign for Kate Spade New York.
Up until a few years ago (when Kate Spade took over basic bitches' cell phone cases everywhere and their stationary hit the shelves of Indigo) I had never even heard of Kate Spade. Shocking I know. It wasn't until after I learned that Kate Spade was an actual person who was married to David Spade's brother, that I became interested (David Spade is that annoying comedy actor with the long blond hair, who after hearing interviewed on my favourite podcast, WTF, is now someone who I feel I totally misjudged).
As I walked into the store I was greeted by a mob of people who all seemed to know everything about the purses they were looking at. They didn't bat an eye at the $500.00 price tag on a otherwise, basic looking bag. As I looked at a "bag charm" (aka a fancy keychain) with a price tag of over $80.00 CAD, I couldn't help but wonder...who is Kate Spade and how did she become so successful???
I rushed home to my laptop where I tried to find as much information as I could about Kate Spade. Were her bags always this expensive and people just loved the designs so much that they could justify spending so much money on a bag by a designer they had never heard of? Was her husband wealthy and influential like his brother David, thus launching her into a successful business owner over night? After reading a few articles, what I realized is that Katherine (aka Kate) started off working in a bar. AS DID I!!! She then started working at Mademoiselle magazine where she was the senior fashion editor and head of accessories. Around 1991 she left her job to put all her creative efforts into creating her own line (sound familiar?!).
In 1993 she launched a small collection of bags that were both functional and fashionable. Her first mock ups were made out of card stock paper, and the first fabric she used was burlap! She incorporated the use of bright colours (uhhh...duh... colour is like my thing) and a few short years later opened her own store in New York.
This is where I wonder how much her husband's status helped with her growth. Opening up a store in SOHO New York ain't cheap! However, I read in an article that money was tight, so her husband continued working at an ad agency until they sold 56% of the business to Neiman Marcus. I also watched a short video clip where Kate's husband, Andy, explained that he liquidated his 401(K) (worth $35,000) to support the brand.
The Kate Spade brand is also who I refer to when trying to explain to people what a "surface designer" is. People love Kate Spade stationary, cell phone cases, purses and wallets; not necessarily because of their function, but because of their design. The polka dots, hearts and bows are something that so many girls can relate to and fall in love with. Although my prints are definitely not that girly and flirty, I hope - that one day - mine will be as recognizable to women as hers are.
Basically I have come to the conclusion that Dee Silkie is Kate Spade's wild sister.
- Dee Silkie CEO