In one of her final interviews before her tragic death, designer Kate Spade has revealed that she wished she "worried less" and was the type of person who battled with the thought "the sky was falling".
Spade, 55, who made her name with her luxury handbags in the 1990s and early 2000s, was found dead in her New York Upper East Side apartment this morning from an apparent suicide.
Speaking to podcast host Guy Raz on business series How I built this in November 2017 alongside her husband Andy — Spade said she suffered from nerves, and would "worry a lot".
"I'm a very nervous person and I worry a lot," she told Raz.
"Andy [husband] could not be more different. I was the 'sky is falling' person, and Andy is the 'it's fine'."
In an interview with the Kansas City Star newspaper, Spade's sister Reta Saffo said Spade had suffered from depression for years, and refused to seek medical help.
Saffo said the tragic event came as no surprise.
"I will say this was not unexpected by me," Saffo wrote in emails to the Kansas City Star.
"She was always a very excitable little girl and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive".
Saffo said that within the past three or four years she tried and tried to get her sister – born Katherine Brosnahan – the help she so desperately needed.
"I'd come so very close to getting her to go in for treatment (to the same place Catherine Zeta-Jones went for her successful bipolar treatment program). I'd spoken with them on the phone (not telling them exactly who the patient would be). They agreed to fly in and talk with her and take her with them to the treatment center," Saffo wrote.
"She was all set to go — but then chickened out by morning. I even said I (would) go with her and be a 'patient' too (she liked that idea) . . . That seemed to make her more comfortable, and we'd get sooo close to packing her bags, but — in the end, the 'image' of her brand (happy-go-lucky Kate Spade) was more important for her to keep up. She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out."
In 2017, while promoting her new venture, Frances Valentine, a television reporter, asked the Kansas City-born designer if there was anything she wished she knew before she started the business.
"Yes, to worry less," she said during the Build interview. "I really wish I worried less … I worried throughout the company [Kate Spade Handbags] and I still do."
Saffo said she'll always remember the disturbing interest Spade — who no longer owned her eponymous brand, but had started another fashion line — took in the suicide of Robin Williams.
The comic actor killed himself in 2014 and Saffo fears that event played a role in Spade's eventual demise.
"She kept watching it and watching it over and over. I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then," she said.
Spade's husband and business partner, Andy Spade, also played a key role in lobbying the fashion icon to get help – but no avail, according to Saffo.
Saffo said Spade made a dark and simple request – to come to her funeral.
"After numerous attempts, I finally let go," Saffo wrote. "Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves! One of the last things she said to me was, 'Reta, I know you hate funerals. . . but for me would you PLEASE come to MINE, at least."
Spade — who has been with her husband and business partner for 30 years — launched the fashion and accessories venture in 1993, initially selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewellery, bedding, legwear and fragrances.
It became one of the biggest names in female accessories, and stars including the Duchess of Cambridge, Anne Hathaway and Taylor Swift have been pictured with her handbags.
Despite her meteoric success, she sold her firm for around $AU38 million in 2007 to spend more time with her daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, according to TMZ.
According to reports, Spade wrote a note telling her daughter, Frances Beatrix, it wasn't her fault before she took her own life, and that she should "Ask daddy!".
It's understood the fashion mogul's husband was at their Upper East Side home when her body was discovered, while their teenage daughter was at school.
During the interview with Build, the reporter — Jamie Feldman — revealed an anecdote of how she brought her first Kate Spade bag with her bar mitzvah money.
"I bought a black Kate Spade messenger bag, which was a really big moment in my life," she recalled.
Spade was quick to jump in, saying she hoped her daughter would watch this segment of the interview — because she believed the teenager didn't acknowledge her success as a designer.
"I wish you would tell my daughter that," she said. "I need to show this to my daughter because she thinks I have done nothing."
Speaking of being a parent, Ms Spade said she was "very generous" and "really nice".
Spade said that following the sale of her brand, she enjoyed taking time off to be with her only daughter.
"I personally … I don't know about Andy, took off a good nine years and absolutely adored every moment of it," she said.
"And then I realised she was becoming 12 and really didn't want me around so much so thought I'd get back in to the business."
In a 2002 Glamour Women of the Year interview, Spade told the magazine she wanted to be remembered "not just as a good businesswoman but a great friend … And a heck of a lot of fun".
When questioned about what she would like to do in the future, Ms Spade joked she would like to write a book about "parenting pre-teens".
"I just want to write a child's book about how to get through the pre-teen years," she said.
"I'm joking … I just want to read the book of someone who has had experience with raising a pre-teen. Please!"
Spade met her future husband Andy while in college and spoke of how they balanced their marriage, family and career. When asked about parenting, Andy quipped that he now does "all the work".
"That is such a joke," Spade replied while seated next to him, before quizzing him on the name of their daughter's headmaster at school — which he didn't answer.
Deflecting, her husband went on to speak of the challenges of their relationship, especially after 30 years together.
"We really manage our time better," he said. "We have our time to be at home with our daughter, and we have our time to go to the office and do our work. We have great people who we work with so it's more organised now."
Spade added: "I remember people saying 'how do you work together?'
"Andy one day said, 'Listen, if you think every day we're going to go to the office together and we are going to have lunch together,' he said, 'That's not happening'.
"We actually worked on separate floors for that very reason because I had a tendency to go into his office and he'd be on the phone and I'd say get off the phone I have something to tell you or ask you, and myself I had to find boundaries and we had to make a conscious effort not to talk about it [business] 24/7."
Spade, who graduated with a journalism degree from Arizona State University before landing a job in the accessories department with Mademoiselle magazine in New York, said her love for fashion and design hadn't filtered down to her daughter.
Because I am she's not," Spade said. "If I said, 'I like that she doesn't'."
Andy added: "She has her own style, she's not really into our sense."
Coming back to business after 10 years, Ms Spade said the transition was "slow" but she enjoyed being a mother "beyond" business.
"Coming back was a little slower than the first time, I must say," she said.
"I enjoy it but on a different level. I put it in its own little space. Before it was its only space, now I have to put it aside and say 'you're here' and my family is here and I have to divide my time which is actually easy to do despite what people think."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757