In the Guest House with Gordon Russell

Posted on April 29, 2011 in More Fun by | 6 comments

Today we are featuring Gordon Russell, Owner of “In the Pink,” a collection of Lilly Pulitzer Signatures Stores across New England, here in our Guest House.  We’re so excited to feature Gordon, pictured above with one of his sons, because he’s doing some amazing work to support MitoAction and we’re proudly partnering with him and MitoAction for their upcoming, 2nd annual Sandra K. Russell Derby Day benefit.  Sadly, Gordon lost his wife, Sandra who was also his business partner, after she battled with mitochondrial disease.  At Lilly Pulitzer, we lead a colorful life, and COLORFUL takes on a lot of meaning in our world.  Sandra, a long-time Lilly lover, set a wonderful example for so many in leading a colorful life, reminding us how color can be therapeutic in all of our lives. Gordon has since joined MitoAction as a board member and gratefully gives his time and energy to support this wonderful organization who helps families like his.  And of course, we’re happy to spread the word about the great things Gordon and MitoAction are doing and get the word out about their upcoming Derby Day (buy tickets here!) to honor Sandra and raise awareness and funds for MitoAction. Here is Gordon to tell us a little bit about how this all got started…

Tell us how you came to join forces with MitoAction

On a personal level I joined forces with MitoAction when they asked me to join their board of directors after Sandra died. It has been a rewarding experience. During the 42 months after her diagnosis, Sandra and I and our boys saw and felt first hand the wonderful support and advocacy MitoAction provides. I was pleased to be able to be part of helping them continue their important work and expand their reach. As things evolved, MitoAction heard the story of how Sandra put on many Derby Day parties at our house over the years. They cooked up the idea to create a Derby Day fundraising event and named it after Sandra. Naturally I was honored and was pleased to throw my support behind it. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our team at In The Pink and our friends at Lilly.

Sandra had a lifelong love of Lilly Pulitzer. What was her favorite piece of Lilly to wear?

Oh my… that is a tough one. Sandra adored wearing Lilly. Especially on the Cape and Nantucket…well St. Croix too. She had many favorites. Of course she loved the Sandra Skirt… I have a great picture of her wearing that at our son’s graduation from Elon in May of 2008. She looked smashing!

Give us the rundown of all the happenings at the Sandra K Russell Derby Day Benefit for Mito

The event will be held at the Mandarin Hotel in Boston this year. They have dreamed up some great food offerings that will connect with the Derby theme. We were fortunate to have Grey Goose support the event as well. They are the official liquor sponsor at the actual Derby and will do the same at our event in Boston. Lilly has partnered with us to create a wonderful ‘mito’ print. Last year we launched the ‘Mito Murfee‘ at the event and it has become a huge success. This year Lilly has produced a ‘Mito Tote’ that features the mito print and we will launch that product at the Mandarin this year. (so we can’t show it to you yet!) Both of these fabulous items provide important support to individuals and families facing a diagnosis of mitochondria as 100% of the net proceeds from sales goes directly to MitoAction. As part of the event we also have a Derby Day Hat Parade and contest. Janie Schoenborn has provided some great hat wearing tips to our guests and I know the Hat Parade will be a highlight of this year’s event.

Tell us how Janie and the print team came up with the design for the Mito Murfee?

After Sandra’s diagnosis we spent untold hours with doctors and in hospitals. As we became educated about what mitochondrial disease was all about we were shown many images of the mitochondria that is found in the cells of every human being. These images were striking in their color and shape. Both Sandra and I couldn’t help thinking that these images reminded us of Lilly prints. So when it came time to design the ‘Mito Print’, I sent along a batch of these images to Janie to use as inspiration. From there, she and her team worked their magic and created the wonderful Mito Print.

Consider attending the Sandra K. Russell Derby Day Benefit on Saturday, May 7thTickets are still available! (and there’s a hat contest- now that the Royal Wedding is over, we need another reason to wear our hats!)

Lynne Keery Ellis

Posted on April 30th, 2011 at 10:05am

What a beautiful tribute to such an inspirational person. I miss my sister!


Jane Mcwane

Posted on April 30th, 2011 at 2:44pm

I wish you would make much larger sizes ! I certainly would love to wear Lilt once again ….. Thanks


Jean Shepherd

Posted on April 30th, 2011 at 4:55pm

This comment is from an island off the west coast of Canada where, yes … I have heard of and from Gordon. I have Mitochondrial Disease and I want to thank Gordon and his family for all the work he has done to help families with “Mito”. REAL MEN WEAR PINK, Gordon and you look smashing!


Cindy and Bethany

Posted on April 30th, 2011 at 6:06pm

We went to the Sandra K. Russell Derby Day benefit last year and it was amazing! You can’t even imagine the hat contest until you have been there! This event was the next best thing to being at the actual Kentucky Derby! Watching the horses run, cheering on your horse, and being part of such an important evening for MitoAction will be unforgettable! We know, first hand, the importance of MitoAction and urge you to come and raise a glass in memory and honor of Sandra!



Posted on May 2nd, 2011 at 1:42pm

Gordon, your work in Sandra’s memory and for the good of all families affected by mitochondrial disease to raise awareness is inspirational!



Posted on June 20th, 2011 at 12:09pm

I love the Lilly blog and Lilly! would love to be apart of it if you ever blog about Lilly Art and Artists that have pieces inspired by the beauty of Lilly! contact me :)
Artist Tina Leong