Andrew Spade is a fashion designer who co-founded Kate Spade and Jack Spade. Born in Birmingham, Michigan, he attended Arizona State University, where he met fellow future-fashion designer Katherine Brosnahan. Together, they launched the handbag design company Kate Spade in 1993. The couple married the next year. They created the design company Jack Spade in 1996 to fill the perceived market void for stylish and practical men's accessories, and the company officially launched in 1999. In February of 2009, Andy openend a new store on Great Jones Street, in Manhattan, called Partners & Spade. He resides in New York City.
Question: How do you build a brand?
Andrew Spade: I don’t think you think about building a company. I think you think about building a product. A lot of people asked, “It must be daunting how to start a company.” I always respond, “We never started a company. A company is a byproduct of making a good product.” We made six bags for Kate, and made two for Jack. And we made them really well, and slowly but surely found an audience for those bags. Sold them to the right stores who had the customers who we believed would appreciate those. So we limited the distribution, let it go where it would go naturally, and really focused on the product. I mean if you focus on the product, and you watch the market, and you understand where there are voids, and you find something that’s new, that satisfies a need – it’s so old school it’s simple – and be consistent about it, watch quality, hire great people, and really stay true to your original vision and just expand on it, then you have a company and a brand. Brands take a long time. You can’t build history into something. We can’t compete with the Europeans who’ve been around a hundred years. So we have to be innovative, and a little bit more clever and intelligent. Because no one believe something is well made when it’s two years old. You know, if you’re a hundred year old company and you’re still going, you obviously know what you’re doing. Does that make sense?
Recorded on: 7/12/07