Late Designer Kate Spade Took a 10-Year Hiatus from Fashion to Focus on Daughter Frances, 13
When Kate Spade was found dead at 55 from apparent suicide in her N.Y.C. apartment on Tuesday, she left behind the 13-year-old daughter for whom she took a near decade-long hiatus from the fashion world.
The designer, née Katherine Noel Brosnahan, founded her namesake brand in 1993 with husband Andy Spade (brother of actor David Spade) and sold the company in 2007. In 2016, she began another accessories brand, Frances Valentine, named for her daughter, Frances Beatrix.
Spade left the company she founded shortly after it was acquired in 2006, opting to focus on family over fashion.
“I needed a break and I really wanted to raise my daughter,” she told PEOPLE in 2016. “People asked me, ‘Don’t you miss it?’ I really didn’t. I mean, I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I might.”
The designer told Moneyish last year she wouldn’t trade the time with her only child in exchange for her self-titled brand “in a million years.”
“We had a baby in 2005 … I wanted to leave on good terms, it was the perfect time to leave, I wanted to spend time with my daughter, I’d heard so many horror stories about people who sell and then they stay and then they fight and they sue … so I thought oh, that’s too ugly for me … so it was seamless. It was a very quiet exit,” she explained on the podcast How I Built This in February 2017.
In a 2016 feature for The Cut, Spade took the magazine through a day in her life, beginning with gently waking up with daughter “a little nudge every 10 minutes.”
“My husband, Andy, runs to Starbucks because he doesn’t want any part of that banter,” she explained. “I’m in my daughter’s room going, ‘Oh my god, I asked you 20 minutes ago and you’re still in your pajamas.’ It’s a little mini battle. She’s jealous of our dog because he doesn’t have to do anything.”
Spade said the family sat together for dinner each evening.
“It’s a thing that Andy and I decided to do when she was little,” the designer said. “When she got older and she had all these activities, it became a little more difficult, but I still made it a point to have our dining-room table set, just so she knows that there’s structure. We want to sit together as a family and talk about our days.”
Then they’d watch a show like Modern Family or Seinfeld together after Frances had finished her homework.
Spade said balancing her family life with her new business was hectic.
“Being a mother adds an enormous amount of stress to your life. You need to make sure you’re there for everything,” she told The Cut. “We don’t have other people to do it for us — I want to make sure I’m there. When you’re trying to be a parent and a businessperson at the same time, that is the most stressful thing you could do.”
When Spade launched her new accessories brand, Frances Valentine, she legally changed her name to Kate Valentine Spade to match her new label. “I thought it was important to distinguish who I am now,” she said. “I’m the same person, but there’s a difference.”
RELATED VIDEO: Kate Valentine Spade’s Ultimate Style Advice
Although Frances sometimes asked why there were shoes with her mother’s name on it, according to Moneyish, she knew her mom was a big deal.
“I took my daughter into the Kate Spade store to buy her a skirt. The lady behind the counter said ‘Are you on our mailing list?’ And I said ‘no’ and my daughter was looking at me like, ‘C’mon, just tell her,'” Spade recalled to PEOPLE. “I just loved, ‘Are you on our mailing list? It’s like, ‘No, I created your mailing list!'”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).