It wasn’t easy for Kate and Andy to get the company to that first success. In its early days, they spent every dollar they had on it, and without a design education, Kate had to find pattern makers who could help her turn her ideas—rough prototypes assembled from paper and Scotch tape—into real products, which she took to a trade show to find her first customers.

But from that conversation over dinner, with a lot of subsequent work, Kate Spade New York has grown into a major force in American fashion with more than $1 billion in annual sales from bags, as well as clothing, jewelry, and home goods. The brand now has more than 200 total stores around the world, which means more women than ever have a Kate Spade bag dangling from their arm.

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