This probably just looks like a picture of any other store, a place of business to buy fancy things, you may or may not need. In actuality, it was an institution where I learned that the tiniest of details make all the difference, the true alchemy of bold color stories working together, and how one woman’s vision can create an atmosphere of magic.
I spent every weekend in the summer of 1998 at this Kate Spade flagship shop and during the week, I interned at their corporate headquarters in the Flatiron District. There was always a palpable energy in the air, the brand was taking off and I could actually feel the excitement of someone’s dream, an idea once just a business plan, coming to fruition. It’s rare to be in such an electric environment, however this being my first official fashion internship, didn’t fully grasp how out of the ordinary it all was. Every task I was given was infused with purpose and more importantly, had to be executed with exacting precision and discernment…it wasn’t oppressive, it was just very clear that there was a right way to accomplish things, and that was with elegance, whit and charm.
The shop was a like a living, breathing entity – refined yet approachable, boisterous yet composed…among the bags were beautiful vintage books, retro glass cabinets filled with convivial canvas coin purses, cheerful wax-cotton Mackintosh raincoats hanging on walls, and always a welcoming vase of peonies. Customers entered the store with elation as a youngster would going through the turnstile at Disneyland for the first time.
As the weeks went by and these experiences accumulated, a deep knowing developed…I remember telling myself, “Ahhhh, this is how you build a brand.” It’s not just a flimsy, drone-like mission statement; it is a firm, unwavering demeanor and an ironclad commitment to consistency. I would see Kate with Henry, her lovely Maltese, and know this persuasion came from the top down. It’s easy to think that she developed the right product at the right time, but the truth is Kate was a visionary that created a world where propriety and fun could live as one; she shepherded a fresh dialogue about what it meant to be a woman and how fashion can foster self-expression.
I’m honored and grateful to have participated in Kate’s burgeoning success and am holding her family and loved ones in my heart.