Back in January of 1993, a company launched that would go on to become one of America’s leading handbag brands. That company was Kate Spade. Founders Kate and husband Andy Spade left the über-successful business in 2007 and have now gone on with two former Kate Spade colleagues to launch Frances Valentine, a design house with an eye for playful, feminine style. She is so committed to it that she’s even changed her last name from Spade to Valentine (though it’s worth noting that the latter is a family name; her grandfather’s middle name, to be exact)! That’s some dedication. I once saw the two of them speak at an Amex forum and was very impressed with their story, so it was lovely to talk with her personally about what to expect from the new NYC-based studio. If you saw my post on the best beach totes, you know I’m already a fan!
To begin, of all the handbags you own, which is your favorite? Currently, it is the natural canvas tote with a red oversized patent FV on the outside.
How do you feel the fashion industry has changed in the almost ten years since you left the Kate Spade company? From a retail and wholesale perspective, it’s very similar, but what I feel has changed is the power of e-commerce and social media.
What sets Frances Valentine apart from the Kate Spade brand and what binds them together? Time and “evolution” as opposed to “aging.” What binds them together – it’s all about intelligent fashion.
Take us through the good and bad of working with family and friends. How much time do you have? Seriously, I haven’t found anything bad with the exception that maybe sometimes boundaries are blurred.
There are just four investors in this company, and you are one of them. How have you seen this freedom manifest itself in the design or business aspects of Frances Valentine? There is amazing amount of freedom in being self-financed.
What do your average workdays look like from morning until night? Each day is different. Some days I’m in the office working on sales and production, and last week I was in Italy working on new Resort and Spring designs. Also, we took some time to visit museums in Milan and Venice.
Flats or heels? Heels when I can; flats when I can’t!
Which upcoming shoe trend are you most excited about? I’m not sure what they are as I really design by mood rather than by trends.
Which is best everyday bag in your line? The wicker with raffia flowers.
Edie Wicker Bag, $345
Photo Credit: Marie Claire