It has been one year since fashion icon Kate Spade passed away after being found dead in her apartment from an apparent suicide. Now, her best friend and business partner, Elyce Arons, took some time to write a beautiful and emotional first-person tribute for her close pal.

“Katy and I had been best friends since our freshman year as journalism students at the University Of Kansas. We stayed up late those first nights telling each other all of the things we had never told a soul: the tragic death of my older sister, the pain Katy had gone through when her parents divorced,” Elyce shared with People. “We decided that we were going to start a business together, although we had no idea what form that idea would ultimately take. We bonded over our love of practical jokes and music. No one could make me laugh like Katy.”

Kate Spade
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Elyce goes on to discuss the journey her and Kate took on their way to starting their business — from “crashing in a tiny apartment” to waiting on tables. Eventually, the dream became a reality. “We worked out of Katy and [her college sweetheart] Andy’s industrial live/work loft in Tribeca. Orders would rattle in from Barney’s and Saks Fifth Avenue on an old fax machine that [our partner] Pamela [Bell] got used from a friend. It was such an exciting time,” Elyce said.

“While much of fashion was grunge inspired in those years, Katy’s ideas were fresh, not trendy or cool. Her style was really timeless. Classics were her jumping off point, and we made the bags and shoes we wanted to wear. She would mix pieces of costume jewelry, always with her up-hairdo and a bright, colorful, quirky outfit. Always different, always original. It was amazing to watch that sense of style which came so naturally to her develop and mature.”

“After 15 years of growing the business, we ended up selling the company at the perfect time, which allowed us to spend more time at home raising our kids. Two years ago, we launched a new direct to consumer brand together called Frances Valentine,” Elyce explained. Today, Elyce is now paying tribute to her friend through fashion.

kate Spade
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“We’re going to continue to bring her designs and vision to the world. Katy lit up every room she ever entered, and so do the designs she has created. We intend to keep them alive at Frances Valentine,” Elyce explained. “With each collection, we design, Katy is always in the forefront of my mind. We want to continue to create the bags and shoes that Katy loved for women who are inspired by her.”

The world was shocked upon hearing the news of Kate’s death — and Elyce was left with an overwhelming amount of emotions. “It’s difficult to talk about a loved one who’s taken their life, and hard not to be angry with my friend who has left me so heartbroken,” the businesswoman said. “I am constantly thinking of her family and think of her everyday. I hope that anyone reading this who needs help will know that loved ones are there for them, I pray that they will seek that help. Most of all, I hope that people will remember Katy, the best friend that anyone could ever dream of having — the funny, intelligent, sweet, sophisticated, whimsical, gracious woman I knew.”

We will always remember Kate and the impact she had.