Vickie and Jeff Cotton, the owners of Blue Moon Artisans, a gift shop in Westfarms Mall in West Hartford, believe in giving back. In addition to their own generous philanthropy, most of the products at their store are produced by companies that give a portion of their proceeds to charity. The Cottons are inspired to support children from their own life experience and from moving stories of kids like Steven Lefevre.
Steven was born at 27 weeks weighing less than 3 pounds. Like many babies born that early, he faced multiple health challenges because his organs and systems were not yet ready for the world. He suffered brain bleeds, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, an enlarged liver, urinary tract infections, and a tethered spinal cord, among other medical challenges. Thanks to the world-class care he received at Connecticut Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), today Steven is a happy and healthy 5 year old with a future full of promise.
Steven’s experience and those of many other children have moved the Cottons, longtime supporters of the Medical Center, to create their own bracelet, called “Love You to the Moon.” The bracelets are made by jewelry maker Tiffany Jazelle out of semiprecious stones with a dangling silver circle enclosing a crescent moon and heart. The bracelets are available with a variety of stones, including moonstone, jasper, hematite, rose quartz and turquoise.
“We designed the ‘Love You to the Moon’ bracelet as a tribute to parents and children who feel that intense love more than anything in the world,” Vickie says. “And we couldn’t think of a better place to benefit from sales than Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where so much pain and difficulty for parents and children is addressed and where so many good success stories evolve.”
For every “Love You to the Moon” bracelet sold 10 percent of the sale price will be donated to Connecticut Children’s.
Strong Affection for Connecticut Children’s
The Cottons have a strong affection for Connecticut Children’s. When their daughter, Alexandra, was born 35 years ago with a severe hearing impairment, she was a patient of what was then Newington Children’s Hospital (before it moved to Hartford, where it consolidated services with pediatric departments of Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut Health Center and was renamed Connecticut Children’s Medical Center).
“The staff at Newington offered me so much support and care for my daughter,” Vickie says. “They showed us how to get on the right track from the get-go, from prescribing hearing aids to advising on how to provide effective early care.”
Because of that advice and care, rather than being limited by her disability, Alexandra went on to become the class salutatorian in high school, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Chicago and received a doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University and today is an assistant professor of history and anthropology at the University of Wyoming.
Giving Back to Others
With a history like that, it’s not surprising that the Cottons decided to carry product lines that give back. In fact, some 70 percent of Blue Moon’s inventory is composed of give-back products. They carry an array of jewelry, coffee mugs, plaques, figurines, knit socks, handmade soaps, and hundreds of clever and beautiful gifts. And most of the products benefit worthy causes.
“We support numerous foundations around the country,” Vickie says. “Last year was the first time in which we took it upon ourselves to develop a product exclusively for a local group—Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.”
“My personal philosophy is, if you can treat a child for an issue or a problem, you may be able to overcome that issue in their adult life,” Vickie says. “There’s no end to what you can do if you help a child.”