The Real Housewives of New York City alum Jill Zarin has been giving back in a big way this holiday season! She and her husband, Bobby, partnered with luxury loan company Suttons & Robertsons to bring aid to Haiyan relief by donating the profits from the sale of their Hirschfeld celebrity portrait collection to the American Red Cross.
Jill opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her “Hirschfelds for Haiyan” initiative, what it was like to recently turn 50, and how her daughter, Ally Shapiro, 21, is doing. The television star goes on to share what she thinks of New Year’s resolutions, her top beauty secret, and why she thinks “sugar is a drug.”
CBS: You and Bobby partnered with Suttons & Robertsons luxury loan company for the “Hirschfelds for Haiyan” program that brings aid to the Philippines. Can you tell us about the initiative?
JZ: “Bobby and I felt that that particular tragedy that happened in that area of the world didn’t get enough attention and recognition. I don’t know why, but I don’t think it did. Bobby and I had this collection of Hirschfeld art that we had been thinking about selling and we thought, how could we use it to get more attention to what was going on on the other side of the world? The Hirschfeld pieces are absolutely beautiful and I knew Mr. Hirschfeld personally; we were lucky enough to have a lot of artist proofs from his personal collection. We enjoyed them for so many years and of course we are not selling all of them– we still have about 50. We are large collectors and we thought, what better way to use them? I think he would agree that partnering with the American Red Cross for this relief was the best choice.”
CBS: What made you want to partner with Suttons & Robertsons?
JL: “They are a new business that’s coming to New York City, opening up on 52nd and 3rd. My friend is actually working with them and they are extremely fast at getting the money to the right people. I wanted to act quickly to get the money out to the Red Cross relief aid…there is no other organization that would have been able to sell the paintings that quickly in order to get the money for the relief aid fast enough.
If I went another route, it takes a long time, first of all, to find the auction. For the Hirshfelds pieces, auctioneers might say that they don’t have an auction that the collection would work in until the summer or until next fall. It could be tomorrow too, but you just don’t know. It also takes time to publish the book and there are all kinds of fees involved. What’s so unbelievably generous was that Suttons & Robertsons donated the max amount of money that’s raised for relief instead of keeping it profit. Obviously, they are doing it because they want to bring attention to the new store in New York City, which is fine, but they are also making it into a charitable contribution as well. That is great!”
CBS: How else do you like to give back to the community?
JL: “I like to show up and donate my time; sometimes I go to the food bank and I go to a shelter up in Harlem. I also work in soup kitchens, cutting up vegetables with my net on.” [laughs]
CBS: You and Bobby also run Zarin Fabric Warehouse and Home Furnishings. Could you tell us about the store?
JZ: “I am glad you asked! We changed our fabrics and home furnishings store on the lower east side and are opening a new entrance on Orchard Street very soon. It is a beautiful new storefront that is super modern and redone. We took the entire first floor showroom and Bobby redid the entire layout of the building. It’s very streamlined, clean, and easy to navigate. He did a really great job of modernizing the space. We are also organizing a satellite for designers at another building.”
CBS: How did you celebrate your 50th birthday? How does turning 50 feel? Were there any special birthday gifts on your wish list?
JZ: “Ugh…in bed. [laughs] No, I had a huge party at home and was surrounded by family and friends. I had a lot of tables set up for people to sit and talk. In regard to how it feels to turn 50, it sucks! [laughs] Yes, I had some special birthday gifts on my wish list, such as artwork. There are a few things I want to get, but I don’t want to jinx it because I haven’t gotten them yet. I’m hoping that I get what I want by February. [laughs]
There is this secret website I found called TenGems.com, and they have all my favorite designer jewelry for up to 50% off. All the pieces are sold in popular department stores. I put all my favorite pieces in the shopping cart and told Bobby to buy them so it’s like he bought it for me. [laughs] They’ve got David Yurmen bracelets, which range in price from like $700 to $1800, depending on aspects like how big the stone is. It’s pretty price-fixed, but if you go to TenGems.com you can get lovely pieces from lines like Ippolita, Bulgari, Ivanka Trump, and Judith Ripka, all for a huge discount. These pieces also never go on sale. I also blog about the jewelry pieces.”
CBS: How is your daughter Ally? What is she up to these days?
JZ: “Thank you so much for asking! She turned 21 years old on November 1st, she is a senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and she’s looking for a job right now. She wants to work in marketing and branding, and she’s really smart. She worked at Hearst and AOL and can do everything you need done on the computer. She’s great at all the programs, from PowerPoint to film-editing programs, because she studied film and was a movie major.”
CBS: How do you describe yourself as a parent?
JZ: “It depends on what day you ask me. [laughs] I am a loving mom.”
CBS: Do you ever bump into your former Real Housewives of NYC co-stars? Is it awkward if you do?
JZ: “Yes, in fact Ally and I just had lunch with Kelly the other day. Ally also just saw Kelly recently at the Cinema Society’s premiere of Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We all have a great relationship. Today we do, but I can’t speak about tomorrow or yesterday. By the way, I don’t lie, as you can tell. You’ll always get the truth out of me.”
CBS: You own the Skweez Couture line, could you tell us about the collection?
JZ: “Skweez Couture is my answer to every woman’s problem come January 1st. [laughs] We all come home from vacation wearing muumuu dresses and can’t fit into our clothes! What are you going to do? Are you going to go out and replace your wardrobe, go on a diet, or are you going to buy my shapwear that will suck and tuck all that extra five or ten pounds in until you get to a gym?” [laughs]
CBS: Where do you see yourself when you reach your 60th birthday?
JZ: “I am scared to death. Oprah and Kathie Lee Gifford have always been ten years older than me, so I look at them and they look great at sixty! If I can look half as good as Kathie Lee and Oprah, in terms of how they look and how they feel, then I am excited to be sixty. However, I am in no rush! [laughs] It is true though. I always thought that I looked like Kathie Lee, even when she was on TV when I was a little girl. She looks unbelievable! I mean, look at Cher and Barbara Streisand. They all look unbelievably great, and if I can look like them naturally, great, but if I can pay for it, better. [laughs]
By the way, people ask me every day how I look good, and I’m not saying that vainly, but my skin is great. It’s a product that I use called Stages of Beauty. They re-formulate the product every ten years, so you have different products for your twenties, your thirties, your forties, and your fifties. I started using the fifties formula a few months ago and the stuff is unbelievable. I don’t think that an eighteen-year-old and a fifty-year-old need the same thing in regard to skincare. That’s why I love Stages of Beauty…you need a different formula at every stage. It’s an awesome line that’s very affordable and comes with everything you need. I use it all.”
CBS: How have the holidays been for you? Do you have any special holiday traditions?
JZ: “I am eating too much. [laughs] Other than that, I’m great. Pinkberry restarted my favorite flavor again, and I’ve made up for the weeks that they haven’t had it. I’ve eaten like three cartons in two days. I am addicted to Pinkberry…I think there is some kind of drug in there. [laughs] It could just be called ‘sugar,’ but sugar is a drug and I think I am addicted to it. Is there a rehab program for sugar? If there is a rehab place for sugar addicts, I want to go. [laughs] I need it bad. I need to detox off sugar and diet coke. It’s terrible!
In regard to family traditions, we have what we call the Shapiro Family Hanukah party, which is Allyson, dad, and his family. On Christmas Eve, we go to our friend’s house, which is the way Jewish people celebrate Christmas. [laughs] We don’t like to be left out. We don’t have a tree, but we have all the food.”
CBS: Do you have any special New Year’s resolutions?
JZ: “Oh my gosh, I hate New Year’s resolutions, that’s my New Year’s resolution. Every day, I wake up with the goal to do better…I don’t wait until the end of the year. I think my New Year’s resolution is going to be to go on a diet, because I really have been eating too much.”View Slideshow »»