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Crack of Light

01/17/19

I looked at my phone and the world stopped.  Text messages, news notifications and social media posts all saying one unbelievable thing.

Kate Spade took her own life.

Nooooo…no, no, no.   The same person with one of the most iconic bags in the world? Who lived in a gorgeous Upper East Side apartment in New York City with her equally stylish family? The woman who personified happiness?

Certainly not.
…..

While working with the factory near Boston, our sample maker George pulled out the Kate Spade pictured above.   He went on to tell me the following bag tale.

This was the original sample bag which they had made right where I was standing. The tag on the outside was a mistake that unfortunately went to production. Kate’s brother-in-law David had financed the whole thing and Kate and Andy didn’t have the money to redo the bags. The product sat in their basement for years because nobody wanted them.

Once their bag business turned around though, her first bags where made in that very factory. The company eventually became too large, exceeded capacity and was moved to another location.  But still, we were in the room where it happened.

Once you become successful, everyone wants to say they were there in the beginning.  (In fact, in Kate and Andy Spade’s interview on How I Built This they tell exactly none of this story.)  But no matter if this was a tall business tale or not, the brush with greatness gave me confidence.  If Kate Spade started her journey here, perhaps I was in the right place too.

…..

People often compare me to Kate Spade.  Every time I think they’re blowing smoke up my ass. In the weeks after Kate’s death though I started to see the similarity. Her bags stood for something and so do mine. As the New York Times put it, “A bag became more than a bag: it became a symbol of an important moment in a life and part of an individual’s biography.”

Maybe I’d been giving myself too hard of a time.  No one actually has it all together.  We all have failures — real, perceived or something in between. So what if Alesya Bags wasn’t traded on the NYSE yet.   Perhaps there are more important things while creating a company.

The terrible truth is Kate Spade’s death opened up a possibility for me.  She allowed  me to see a new crack of light.  My mind opened to new possibilities.

…..

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