Occupation: Founder of Simply Eartha
Current Residence: Westport, Connecticut
“I love, love, love the Hamptons,” shares Kitt Shapiro, “I live in Westport, Connecticut, but love to visit as often as I can. Living by the water is one thing we share. My mother, the legendary entertainer, Eartha Kitt, lived one town over, in Weston. She lived on the river, because running water was something that was very important for her to be near. I think when your given name is Eartha, you realize the necessity of fresh water.”
KDHamptons: Please tell us why you decided to create the Simply Eartha brand?
Kitt Shapiro: I developed Simply Eartha™, a lifestyle and personal accessories brand, as a tribute to my mother. She shares, “I launched Simply Eartha as a collection that features my mother’s empowering messages along with select items that feature her iconic image. My mother lived a ‘green’ lifestyle long before it was chic. 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.
KDHamptons: How does Simply Eartha work to help the Colon Cancer Alliance?
Kitt: On Christmas Day in 2008 my mother lost her battle with colon cancer. In honor of my mother’s legacy, I pay it forward by donating a portion of all sales to the Colon Cancer Alliance. I now serve on the Board of Directors of the Colon Cancer Alliance (www.ccalliance.org), making it my mission to bring attention to the importance of screening and early detection. Colon Cancer is the second largest cancer killer in the US, yet 90% curable if found early.
KDHamptons: Please explain what a “Kittism” is for our readers?
Kitt: My mother loved the art of conversation. She loved making people think. Throughout my life, she would say to me, “Don’t waste what I have done. If I touched it, wrote it, created it, it is for you to do something with. Don’t let my work die with me.” My mother would always write her thoughts down, and after she passed away, there were thousands of pieces of paper and pages in books with her handwriting. All the words featured on the Simply Eartha™ products are my mother’s words, ‘Kittisms’ as she coined them. All items are made in the USA [which was extremely important to her] and by local artisans, using natural and/or recycled materials.
KDHamptons: What is your favorite memory about Eartha from when you were a little girl?
Kitt: As an only child, I traveled all over the world with my mother. She felt that the education of seeing the world and learning about other cultures was so important and couldn’t be learned in a classroom. She made sure I really saw and experienced the world, making friends with hotel staff and taxi drivers and dragging [I say that because there were many times I would have preferred to have remained in our five-star hotel with TV and AC]. One such experience was on a trip to Hong Kong, weather detoured us to Bangkok, where it was at least 110 degrees and what felt like 1000% humidity. My mother took this side trip as an opportunity for us to see another way of life and asked a cab driver to take us to a local market in his neighborhood. Once there, we walked through an open air marketplace with meat, fish, produce and other items, were all out displayed for purchase. Needless to say, the sensory overload was extreme. My mother was in her glory, excited by all the sights, sounds and smells, realizing that my complaining and misery was far less important than learning first hand how people in other cultures really live. This is just a snippet of what life was like with my mother….
KDHamptons: Did you ever consider going into show business yourself?
Kitt: I worked for my mother for 25 years, running Eartha Kitt Productions and prodding her tours and projects. I think I avoided going in to the entertainment business myself because on some level I didn’t want to either compete or be compared to her. My mother would introduce us to people saying, “I’m Eartha, and this is Kitt,” as if I completed her. And I think in many ways I did. I think I gave her the roots she had yearned for as a child and young girl. I was the perfect fit to be the only child to the woman who was my mother.
KDHamptons: Which are your best selling Eartha products?
Kitt: The adjustable bracelets and the scented soy candles. Simply Eartha™ is available in a growing number of retail boutiques and on line at www.simplyeartha.com