Kitt Shapiro - daughter of the legendary Eartha Kitt - is doing something constructive with that fact. She's the creator of the Simply Eartha lifestyle brand, which honors her mother's wisdom and style through unique home decor and accessories. It's not just a venture with a famous name stamped on it. It's a business that embodies what her mother stood for. BFTV recently sat down with Kitt to discuss the Simply Eartha brand, and what she learned from her mother.
"The company is a tribute to my mother and the way that she raised me," she told us. "The words were very important to her. She didn't like to use too many words, but when she did, she meant every word that she would say. I created this company to share the words that meant so much to me."
"It's really amazing. I think the company has sort of evolved," she said. "The company went from really being all about Eartha and her image and her handwriting and her words to being about the essence of Eartha. People can learn a little bit about her, but also about themselves and maybe someone important in their lives. The response has been amazing, especially with women. I'm getting the most amazing feedback and support and validation from women. It's just really, really cool and so exciting."
Kitt has created various products emblazoned with her mother's words of wisdom, her image or even her handwriting, from notepads and candles to plates and wall art. You can see photos of some of the items in the accompanying slideshow here. What makes the line more remarkable is how these items are made.
"Everything's made in the United States by local artisans, because my mother was very big about 'Made in the USA' and very much about local business. She was very much about putting back into local businesses and putting back into the earth," explained Kitt.
"I really take a lot of what my mother had told me my entire life. She would say 'Don't throw anything away.' She really lived that way," she continued. "So when I looked at doing throws and pillows, for instance, a person came into my life who has a company where they take old T-shirts and recycle them. They can then use the yarn to knit new products. And I think about, is that something she would've wanted to do? I just keep it true to who she was and how I grew up."
Simply Eartha also supports the Colon Cancer Alliance (ccalliance.org), as Eartha Kitt lost her battle with colon cancer in 2008. "The Colon Cancer Alliance is a wonderful organization," said Kitt. "Colon cancer's the second largest cancer killer in the United States. Lung cancer's first, then it's colon cancer. We all talk about breast cancer, because Susan G. Komen and all these fabulous organizations have brought it to light, but colon cancer kills more people."
Having learned so much from her mother, Kitt is now a mother herself, as well as a successful businesswoman and someone who believes strongly in social responsibility. She doesn't wear her famous parentage as a label. Instead, she's used that name recognition to do something that not only pays tribute to her mother, but is hopefully meaningful to others as well. With that philosophy, it's no surprise that commercial numbers are not what her company is about.
"It's really about my mother's message to me. Obviously her music and movies and TV, those are going to continue forever, but the person that she was, I am the sole person that can continue sharing with people the person that she was," Kitt told us. "That's the legacy that I was left to carry on, to share with my children and other people, fans old and new. I feel like when you become successful, you have to be able to share your success."