Heather Delaney's touching note written to Kate Spade after news of her death has gone viral on social media
Kate Spade‘s legacy lived on long after she stepped away from her namesake company, Kate Spade New York, in 2007. The late designer touched so many people across the world, including one mom who paid tribute to Spade in a now-viral Facebook post about the special experience of bringing her five-year-old daughter to a Kate Spade New York store for the first time.
Heather Delaney penned the heartfelt letter written to Spade, which has since been shared thousands of times on Facebook alone, just hours after news broke that the accessories designer died of suicide on Tuesday in her N.Y.C. apartment.
During a family vacation to Florida, Delaney decided it would be the perfect time to take her daughter to the Kate Spade New York store for her first “Kate Spade” experience just days before her sixth birthday.
“Dear Kate spade, almost four years ago, during a family vacation to Florida, I decided it was time to take my daughter, Elle (who was two months shy of six years old at the time), for her very first Kate Spade experience,” Delaney started the letter. “The night before, I couldn’t sleep. My husband would laugh as we laid there in the bed, me jumping with excitement, in anticipation of her and I getting matching bags the next morning. This was a serious mama dream come true.”
In her mind, the mom envisioned the adorable matching mother-daughter moment they would have from then on as her daughter would “get the crossbody; I would get the full size. Brilliant,” she wrote.
But ultimately, her daughter had a different idea.
“So the next morning, we walk in. I show her the white ones. The black ones. The legendary stripped ones. nope. nope. nope. None of them appealed to her ‘style’, she told me. (don’t take offense, Kate. Versace would have a hard time pleasing this one.),” Delaney said.
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“Then, she saw it. The first Kate Spade item that she would call hers. Her face would light up, and her eyes would go wide. She fell in love…with a pair of black, furry earmuffs. That’s right, a pair of freaking black, furry earmuffs, Kate. (I mean, does anything scream ‘Canadian’ more than going into a Florida store, and buying a pair of earmuffs?! #theanswerisno).”
“The store lady proudly boast that this would be the first pair of earmuffs that they ever sold, and told Elle that she would smile for days just because of this sale. (And just like that, my dreams of matching mother/daughter purses went down the drain, as Elle laid her earmuffs proudly on the counter. Should’ve seen this coming.) But she was smiling. The sales lady was smiling. And even I, jaded by the loss of a new purse, was smiling.”
Delaney continued saying, “Kate, I’m sorry that we could not bottle that up for you. I’m sorry that we could not bottle up every grin, every laughter, every happy heart that walked through your stores. I’m sorry that we could not gather every smile that you put on a humans face, whether it was because they just found the most loveliest brooch for their wedding day, the most exquisite pair of earrings to wear on their graduation day, or even the most coziest pair of earmuffs to wear around Florida (yes. again. those earmuffs) — and lay those smiles in your lap.”
“I’m sorry that some are still scared by mental health, Kate. I’m sorry that some don’t understand it, and I’m sorry that the world still doesn’t always allow us to talk openly about it, without fear of prejudice. I’m just so sorry you were sad, while you made so many others happy. So incredibly happy. You lived a life that others could only dream of. Powerhouse of a businesswoman. wife. mother. owner of the most amazing apartment on park ave.”
A medical examiner officially declared Spade’s death suicide by hanging, nearly two days after the fashion designer was found dead in her New York City apartment on June 5.
Police said a housekeeper found Spade, née Katherine Noel Brosnahan, Tuesday morning in her bedroom at her Park Avenue home in Manhattan. A police source confirmed to PEOPLE that Spade was alone when she died.
Spade founded her namesake brand in 1993 with her husband, Andy Spade, the brother of actor David Spade, and first launched the line with colorful handbags before expanding into other accessories and clothing, ultimately building a billion-dollar brand. The pair sold their stake in the company to Liz Claiborne, Inc. in 2006, and the brand was sold again in 2017 to Coach. (The newly formed company, which also includes Stuart Weitzman, is now called Tapestry, Inc.)
After selling her ownership stake in her company, Spade and her husband took time away from design.
“I needed a break and I really wanted to raise my daughter [Frances],” 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.”
A decade later, she launched a brand new accessories brand, Frances Valentine. She legally changed her name to Kate Valentine Spade to match her new label in 2016. “I thought it was important to distinguish who I am now,” she said. “I’m the same person, but there’s a difference.”
Spade is survived by Andy, her husband of 24 years, and their 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).