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 7th. Tickets are still available! (and there’s a hat contest- now that the Royal Wedding is over, we need another reason to wear our hats!)