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Ulta apologizes for ‘insensitive choice of words’ about late designer Kate Spade

The beauty brand sent the email May 1, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month.
USA - Portraiture - Kate Spade
Designer Kate Spade died by suicide in 2018.David Howells / Corbis via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to for additional resources.

Ulta Beauty has issued an apology after an email was sent to customers inviting them to "hang" with late fashion icon Kate Spade, who died by suicide in 2018 at age 55.

The beauty brand's initial email, sent Sunday, included the subject line, "Come hang with Kate Spade" followed by heart emojis.

The body of the email contained information about Kate Spade's perfume "Sparkle".


Consumers quickly reacted to the brand's marketing outreach.

"I cannot believe I got this email today. Is this some kind of sick joke?" one user wrote on Twitter alongside a screenshot of the email. "How insensitive and absolutely tone deaf. Apparently nobody in marketing at Ulta remembers how Kate Spade died. Disgusting."

Another pointed out the email was sent on May 1, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month.

"Whoever wrote the incredibly crass email headline at Ulta for the Kate Spade event yesterday also managed to do it on the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month," the user wrote. "An ignominious start by demonstrating the carelessness people tend to have around this topic."

On Monday, the brand issued an apology via email to customers for their "insensitive choice of words" in the previous email.

“In an email we recently sent featuring the kate spade new york brand of fragrances, a very insensitive choice of words was used and for that we are very sorry,” the emailed apology began. “We have the utmost respect for the kate spade brand and the joy it brings to the beauty and fashion industries. At Ulta Beauty, our teams are human, and this was truly an error with no intent to do harm.”


The emailed apology continued, "We're keenly aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a very serious and important issue in this country, and not something we would ever take lightly. We are working internally to ensure something like this never happens again."

The email concluded with an apology to the Spade family, Kate Spade brand partners, and guests.

"We apologize for this upsetting mistake," the statement read. "Simply put, this is below our standards. Thank you for understanding as we strive to do better."

Related: Kate Spade’s husband shares moving tribute 1 year after her death

The apology, which appeared to be edited for brevity, was also posted to Ulta's Instagram stories on Monday.

The brand shared an edited version of the emailed apology to their Instagram stories on Monday.
The brand shared an edited version of the emailed apology to their Instagram stories on Monday.Instagram / via Instagram

A representative for Ulta told TODAY in a statement Monday afternoon, "Ulta Beauty recently sent an email featuring kate spade new york fragrance where a very insensitive choice of words was used by mistake. For this, we are deeply sorry. This was a mistake, does not reflect our values and we are taking steps to ensure it does not happen again.

"And it was certainly not reflective of the deep respect we have for Kate Spade, her family and the kate spade new York brand and brand teams. Mental health is a very serious issue and we apologize to the Spade family, our brand partners and our guests as this mistake may have implied otherwise. We are committed to doing better."