Kitt Shapiro is the daughter of the legendary late Eartha Kitt who passed away from colon cancer 5 years ago. Dedicated to keeping her mother's name and memory alive, Kitt recently founded Simply Eartha, a unique line of home and lifestyle accessories created to honor the beauty and wisdom of her mother.
I had the opportunity to meet Kitt on a couple of occasions. We first met with a mutual friend over coffee one morning last summer and then again very recently, with the same mutual friend, to try our hand at a glass-blowing blowing class. There I got to learn more about Kitt - an amazing woman in her own right. We commented on how our lives sort of paralleled - our childhood travels, the fact we are both only children and that we had both attended the Lycee Francais, though she in Los Angeles and I in New York City. And that is She's is passionate, animated, and now devoted to two very important causes - keeping her mother's memory alive for her fans and educating people about Colon Cancer.
Her childhood was unconventional, touring with her mother both nationally and internationally. When she was not at school she had tutors when she was on the road with her mother. Eartha believed the best education was not what was taught within the 4 walls of a classroom, but by seeing the world.
Kitt delighted in being her mother's daughter, "I wouldn't say that I felt I grew up in my mother’s shadow, but as the only child of a famous woman, I do feel there was a kind of security in being the daughter of… Eartha Kitt." Kitt and her mother were incredibly close. Kitt tells of her mother introducing herself as "I'm Eartha and this is Kitt" as though they completed each other.
Kitt lost her mother to Colon Cancer on Christmas Day in 2008. The years without her have been an evolution. She has gone from being someone's child to no longer being so. "These years without her have been an evolution for me. ... I have cried; been angry; felt lost and alone. But, I have also been able to laugh, rejoice and feel gratitude for how blessed I was to have had such an incredible woman for a mother."
Kitt remains inspired by her mother and the lessons learned from her mother, She describes Eartha as "real, complex, and at times, flawed, human being. She taught me to be true to myself; to live honestly and with respect for everything and everybody. To possess calm in place of panic and to remember that humor is one of life’s most precious gifts."
And so, with that inspiration she has chosen to start a new chapter in her life - She has introduced a new a lifestyle brand called Simply Eartha as a tribute to her mother. She has taken her mother's images and writings and wisdom and created designs that she hopes will continue to inspire her fans, both old and new.
Other than your mother, who was your very first style icon? How old were you?
Katherine Hepburn. A s little girl, I loved films from the 1940’s and 50’s.
Luxury can be something indulgent like the fine leather in an expensive car, but it can also be as simple as taking time for yourself in a warm bath or a peaceful walk on the beach
What’s the inspiration behind your company?
My mother’s words, her spirit and her beauty
What’s your favorite room in your home?
That depends on the day. Some days I set myself up in the living room with it’s lower ceilings and cozy feel; other days I work in the sun room, with my mother’s wood burning stove fired up and warm. And some days, I take over the kitchen table and work where I can see everything else going on in the house.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing? Shoes? Accessory?
I wear jeans almost every day. I have a pair from J. Crew that I’ve had for years and the holes in them were authentically made over time. I love my ballet flats. I will buy multiple pairs of the same style because I wear them to death. My favorites are Pirouette by London Sole. In the colder weather, I have a pair of flat black ankle boots by Alberta Ferretti that I have had for so many years, but I can’t give them up. I love scarves, especially ones by Faliero Sarti. When the temperature drops, you will always see me wearing one. And, of course, I pile on my Simply Eartha™ bracelets.
Biggest fashion pet peeve?
Who is your current style icon?
What is your favorite food?
6 people (dead or alive) you would have for dinner tonight and what would you serve them for dinner?
Moses, Alan Shepard, Harriet Tubman, Ursula Burns, George Washington, Amelia Earhart. I would be so nervous, I wouldn't know what to serve, so I would hire a chef and have them create so many choices, there would be enough to feed an army. And then I wouldn't eat because I wouldn't want to take time away from listening to my amazing guests talk about their lives!
You’re a business woman and a mom… how do you budget your time?
I am not good at planning ahead, but I am good at multi-tasking (I think most women are), so I tend to figure it out as I go. My mother was a great role model for ‘going with the flow’, adapting to each situation no matter how unexpected and would often say “Don’t Panic. It doesn’t change a thing and only makes it difficult to see the options that may be in front of us.” ‘Don’t Panic’ is featured prominently on the Simply Eartha products.
My kitchen is…………………………..
The center of my house, literally and figuratively
What’s in your purse?
Wallet, protein bar, small notebook (I love paper and pen to write ideas), pen, lipstick, hair ties (I almost always put my hair up at some point during the day), hand cream, phone battery charger and cord, coins floating at the bottom of my bag, samples of something I’m working on (usually bracelets or fabric), random receipts and pieces of paper, prescription sunglasses (often more than one pair), business cards and my Kindle (in case I’m sitting someplace for a while. I love to read)
I never leave home without………………………….
A bottle of water.
In addition to preserving her mother's name Kitt is dedicated to finding a cure for Colon Cancer and she now serves on the Board of Directors of the Colon Cancer Alliance.
"Many people don’t realize that colon cancer is the second largest cancer killer in the US. I have made it my mission to get people talking about our colons as freely as we talk about our breasts and educate them about the importance of screening and early detection. When found early, colon cancer is 90% beatable."
From my mother and me, Eartha and Kitt, to you.
Remember. Treasure. Love. Simply… Eartha"
Do hop on over to Kitt's website, Simply Eartha - Her home and fashion accessories make for wonderful gifts. With the holiday season coming up you may be looking for hostess gift ideas, or your college-aged children may seek solace in a "Don't Panic" baracelet, or candle. All of her items are made in the USA.