While the world knew the fashion icon as "Kate Spade," Arons called her by a different name: Katy.
"I have a really hard time calling her Kate because that came about through the business," Arons told ABC News' Paula Faris in an interview that aired on Thursday's episode of Good Morning America, "but I had known her for so much longer than that."
The two formed a friendship while studying at the University of Kansas. However, it wasn't until Spade transferred to the University of Arizona that she met her husband, Andy Spade.
The couple then launched her eponymous brand, Kate Spade, in 1993. Arons worked with the duo from the very beginning and recalled their first store opening.
"It was like a 250-square foot store," she said. "It was tiny."
Spade grew the company into a fashion empire. According to Forbes, the couple sold 56 percent of their brand to Neiman Marcus in 1999 for $34 million and then the remaining shares to Neiman in 2006 for a reported $59 million. Coach completed its acquisition of the brand in July 2017 for $2.4 billion.