Darien designer donates 2,000 tote bags to new moms
Published 1:50 pm, Tuesday, December 6, 2016
DARIEN — When Jen Stocker was in second grade, her father had a heart problem that kept him in Stamford Hospital for the year. When Stocker was an adult and working at Conde Nast in New York City, her friend’s daughter had pediatric cancer and Stocker got involved with Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in her honor.
So, when the Darien native and her husband moved back to her hometown, it made sense that Stocker wanted to keep giving back to hospitals, specifically Stamford Hospital. Now the owner of the lifestyle and clothing line Sail to Sable, Stocker has been using her preppy products to benefit Stamford Hospital, most recently in the form of 2,000 Sail to Sable bags donated for new moms and patients recovering from gynecological surgery.
Stocker’s involvement with Stamford Hospital began in April, when she hosted a fashion show that raised around $40,000 for the hospital. She also conducted a shopping day where nurses got to pick a new dress from 300 that she donated.
After hearing feedback from friends who had recently had babies, Stocker decided to donate 2,000 roomy periwinkle tote bags so new moms and patients have something in which to bring home all their hospital materials.
“I was trying to think of how to give a gift to the maternity ward,” Stocker said. “This is a nice alignment.”
For more of Darien designer Jen Stocker’s line, visit sailtosable.com. Her products can also be found in Darien Sport Shop.
According to Stephanie Porricelli, the nurse manager of maternal child health, the hospital used to give out bags to new mothers before budget constraints made it impossible. The bags hold materials new mothers are sent home from the hospital with, such as breast pumps, discharge information and booklets and tips on how to be a new mom and care for the baby.
“We really want to make sure patients feel the care doesn’t end at the hospital,” Porricelli said. “So having all that information for them in one place is very helpful.”
Porricelli said the bag is an example of some of the amenities the hospital likes to give patients to improve the quality of their stay. Former gifts, like blankets, have gotten positive patient feedback for years, and Porricelli said such items are often a reminder of a child’s birth, which for many parents is the best day of their lives.
“This was an awesome surprise for us,” Porricelli said. “It makes patients feel special. They get a gift and can remember us and keep it for the rest of their life.”
The hospital began giving out the bags to new moms and gynecological surgery patients starting the week of Thanksgiving. Stocker’s donation of 2,000 bags should allow the hospital to give bags to all new mothers for at least a year. A close friend of Stocker’s is offering to monogram the bags for free.
Stocker’s involvement with the hospital will not end with the bags. She is already planning another fashion show for next spring.
“The hospital is my cause out here now,” she said.
For Stocker, the gifts are a way for her to continue to give back in a way that is fun and builds philanthropy into her brand. (Sail to Sable also has a line where all proceeds go to fund pediatric cancer research at Sloan Kettering.)
“I think having a giveback philosophy is so important for small businesses,” Stocker said. “People want to support brands that support these causes.
“I started my own brand to do things like this,” the Darien resident said.
Catherine Callagy, the hospital’s director of development, commended Stocker for her involvement with the hospital and how it opens the door with low-commitment ways, like the fashion show, that allow for other millennials to get involved with the hospital as well.
“It’s unique to have a millennial who’s so generous and dedicates so much of her time in philanthropic involvement,” Callagy said.