Kate Spade's Company Reaches Milestone With New York Store Months After Founder's Death

After leaving her eponymous label, Kate Spade founded fashion company Frances Valentine in 2016, and the company just hit a major milestone when it opened a pop-up shop on 793 Madison Avenue in New York City on Thursday, Nov. 15.

“She would have loved it,” CEO Elyce Arons told PEOPLE of Spade. Spade, Arons and Spade's husband, Andy Spade, co-founded Frances Valentine together, and Arons shared that the late designer is always on her mind when it comes to running the company.

“I think about her in every decision we make in the company,” she said. “I’m probably more critical now than I ever was, I just feel like it’s for her. After we were done setting up [the store] on the first day, we had everything in place, and I walked out the door and the first thing I wanted to do was to call Kate and I couldn’t.”

Arons added that she and Frances Valentine's employees are making sure to keep Spade's vision alive.

“We have so much that we worked on together for so many years that I feel like the team — and the team we’ve put together from veterans from our old business, and new folks from here — they get it,” she said. “We all know the right pink, we all know the right green, we all know the right red that we want to get. As I said, we are all more critical than we ever were because Katy would be the person in the room saying, ‘That red isn’t right.’”

The store's opening was attended by friends of the brand, who got a peek at the new store, which marks a new step forward for the brand after Spade's untimely passing.

“She would really love that it’s snowing — it’s so fitting,” Arons said of her friend. “When it started snowing a few hours ago, we just all stopped and said ‘Kate is here, this is her.’ She was a winter kid. Her birthday is Christmas Eve.”

Spade passed away on June 5 of this year from suicide at age 55.

“She was a happy person," Arons said. "She really was.”

To remember the late fashion icon, Frances Valentine re-released the "Kate" bag, which was originally featured in the very first line Spade launched with her eponymous brand, Kate Spade, in 1993. Proceeds from the bag's sales went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in honor of Spade's lifelong support for children's charities.

Ahead of that decision, Arons shared that she had to to decide whether to continue Frances Valentine at all.

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“That first week [after her death], my head was just with her family. I was at the apartment the whole week,” she explained. “I don’t think we ever thought about stopping. We thought, [continue] in her honor. It wasn’t a choice. What were we going to do, just stop? She wouldn’t have wanted that.”

Photo Credit: Getty / Boston Globe