Interview

Interview with Jan Goode Ellington

This week’s interview is with Jan Goode Ellington – legal professional and owner of the wonderful destination site for vintage Hermes, Its-All-Goode. Jan has one of the most extensive collections and deep knowledge of Hermes scarves that I have ever seen, and I loved having the opportunity to get to ask about some of her favorites, and recommendations for building a great scarf collection. An added bonus was getting to hear about her love story! Enjoy meeting the lovely Jan.

Hermes Hard Hat

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

My name is Jan Goode Ellington.  I am of Filipino descent, and was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in San Diego, California.  I moved to New York City in 1984 to gain some independence, among other things, and listen to jazz.  I live in Manhattan but visit my hometown San Diego a lot since my whole extended family remains there.   I am the oldest of four; my parents have eight grandchildren and one great grandson, all thanks to my siblings.

You work in the legal world…and also own and operate the vintage Hermes scarf site, Its-All-Goode. How did you start your business, and how has it grown and evolved since then?

Yes, I have been a transactional/legal secretary for over 30 years and currently work at an NYC boutique law firm. Its-All-Goode was launched in 2009 when a friend decided to liquidate her collection.  I had been re-homing my own things on eBay so had some selling experience, but the proposed 150+ scarves justified finally launching the site I’d bought the previous year but had yet to design.  About the same time, another friend sent me 20+ pounds of scarves, so in no time at all the site had several hundred items.  Our Hermes scarf community is a small world and word of the site got out fast.  I have buying customers all over the world and clients who have consigned thirty or more scarves at a time, and some just three.

How do you manage to balance all your various responsibilities and passions?  

It is not all that difficult.  Basically, I am at the office during the day and do my scarf work on the weekends and evenings.

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You’re clearly a well qualified Hermes scarf connoisseur! Can you share some of your favorite patterns that you have? Which do you wear the most?   

I love the nautical themes.  Vent Portant II and Tuiga are two pattern favorites; Turbans des Reines and Aloha are sentimental ones.  Over the years, hundreds of twills have passed through my scarf drawer, but the remaining ones are more about color than design.  In recent years I started wearing the larger pieces, and nowadays I rarely leave the house without either a mousseline or cashmere shawl.

Tuiga

Tuiga

Aloha

Aloha

What are some of your favorite items in your closet overall?

In San Diego, I live in Hilo Hattie; in New York City it’s pretty much all Lands End chinos, white blouses and cashmere sweaters.  I no longer go to a lot of “high heels required” events, so I was thrilled to dust off my Projets Carre shoes and vintage Hermes crocodile clutch for a recent reunion.  Although I have a few iconic and grail Hermes, I can’t seem to change from my bleu electric Double Sens.

In Hilo Hattie

You’ve obviously seen a lot of accessory purchases come and go in your shop over the years. What would be some advice you would have to those looking to build a great accessories collection? What’re some common mistakes people make?   

Unless one is a collector and doesn’t intend to wear their scarves, color is the most important thing.  If someone owns ten scarves and constantly picks the same two, it is probably because they love how the scarf makes them feel, whether by looking in the mirror or through receiving compliments.   I know I receive a lot more compliments on color than design.  Unless one is going to display a scarf on the wall, people should care more about how colors work next to their face as opposed to how the scarf looks lying flat on a boutique table.  Hermes scarves are so exquisite—they’re veritable wearable art—and it is difficult not to snatch up one just because it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Jan's impressive scarf drawer

Jan’s impressive scarf drawer

What’s a piece of advice about building a wardrobe that you yourself have learned over the years? 

If you are constantly reaching past something else to choose the same couple of accessories, get rid of what is sitting there to fund stuff you will wear.  And buy good quality things you will wear a lot.  Most of us cannot afford to have gobs of expensive pieces lying around unused, so save up to buy something you will wear often that pays for itself and justifies the expenditure.

You recently got married to your childhood sweetheart after decades apart! Can you share a little bit about how you found each other?

In 1975 I loved a boy named Jim. Sadly he moved away to Hawaii and we didn’t stay in touch.  A couple of years ago I learned that he was back in San Diego.  Divine intervention, precocious family members, and Facebook posting resulted in us finally speaking on the phone.  After 5000 cell phone minutes, we decided it was time to see each other.

July 4, 2012, 37.5 years after I dropped him at the San Diego airport, he picked me up in nearly the same spot.  On July 5th, we went to Hermes to pick out our wedding rings and we were married on November 24th.   We’ve been told by dozens of people that our story should be a Lifetime Movie.

A photo of Jan, taken by her now husband Jim

A photo of Jan, taken by her now husband Jim

What’s a piece of life advice that you could share? 

Look hard for the blessings in everything that happens to and around you; they wear funny disguises.

And remember that “the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”  (Marcus Aurelius)

What are some of your other passions and hobbies?   

Long walks on the beach (seriously), and watching sports and listening to music with my husband.  My guilty pleasures are mostly found on the television.  In San Diego I will get on the skateboard Jim just made for me and surfboard paddle Mission Bay.  I also enjoy sharing knowledge and news with other Hermes collector/wearers.  Knowing that people go to Its-All-Goode for eye candy and that the “SOLD” section is used for research is gratifying and fulfills my desire to share what I know about Hermes, which I also do in the form of authenticating on The Purse Forum site.

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Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!

Since my internet handle is sdsurfchick, I thought it was time to get back on a surfboard.  I did that last week for the first time in forty years.

 

I loved hearing about Jan’s love story – such a sweet and inspiring series of events! Thank you to Jan for taking the time to be here today, and for sharing some great advice about vintage scarves, accessories, and life. For more of Jan and to see some beautiful Hermes silks and shawls, please visit Its-All-Goode.

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  • Sherrie
    November 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Wonderful love story!

  • Katherine
    November 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I was super excited to read this weeks interview when I saw that Jan was your guest! I love her website and she is such a lovely person! It was a treat getting to learn a little more about one of my favourite resellers. Thank you both!

  • englishvers
    November 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Very inspiring quote from Jan: Look hard for the blessings in everything that happens to and around you; they wear funny disguises.

  • Jill
    November 15, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Fantastic interview. I have had my eye on a scarf on Jan’s site for awhile. Maybe it’s time I take the plunge! I didn’t know that she was from SD, I am too, originally, and it’s funny to know she is in NYC (I’m in Brooklyn) and a legal secretary, that’s what I did before my kids were born. How fun to find out we have a few things in common, including a love of Hermes scarves. Hey Jan, we should meet!

    • Katherine
      November 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Maybe you guys should! 🙂

  • karen l
    November 15, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Jan is wonderful in so many ways. She has given me so much great advice in purchasing the perfect scarves to frame. She is truly the expert and is the epitome of San Diego cool…

    • Katherine
      November 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      I’d love to hear some of the framing advice! I get a lot of questions on that and wasn’t 100% happy with my own framing job. Maybe it’s time to email Jan again 🙂

  • p @ phiphisblog.com
    November 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    i’ve long admired Jan. she is among one of the nicest H sellers and so knowledgeable. i loved reading about her love story too. so happy for her! xo

  • Imogen Rose
    November 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Great interview and fab pics!

    • Katherine
      November 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks my friend 🙂

  • From Shopping to Saving
    November 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    That love story is so sweet!!!! I love how she finds the time to work full-time as well as own a business. Very inspiring. Also, love that she is from San Diego – my 2nd home 🙂

    • Katherine
      November 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Yes the story is super sweet 🙂 I love SD too, great city, awesome weather!

  • Becky
    November 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Love this interview as she is my favorite reseller! Her service is superb, and I love that she is from Cali. Thank you for posting this interview!

    • Katherine
      November 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Becky!

  • Ammu
    November 16, 2013 at 3:19 am

    What a great love story! Her advice on colour versus design is spot-on.

  • Lorena
    November 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Gorgeous … I love them!

    http://balearaitzart.blogspot.com.au/

  • Trang
    November 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Jan had authenticated a Hermes shawl for me on TPF and I knew her handle, but did not realize she had an entire shop! ah, enablement! Thanks again Jan for your help, and thank you Kat for providing us with Jan’s sweet love story.

    • Katherine
      November 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

      So glad that you could get to learn more about your superlady authenticator! Jan and her shop both rock 🙂

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    November 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I’ve heard so much about her website. I’m often left amazed at how incredible friendships were developed from the Purse Forum. Although I rarely post there now, I cherish the friends I’ve made there.

  • MetzFan
    December 4, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I’ve appreciated Jan’s expertise and her willingness to give advice to novice Hermes buyers. I’ve bought several scarves from her, and she’s been delightful to work with. Thanks for the opportunity to know her a little better.

  • Tommy Lent
    February 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    AWESOME LOVE STORY! So nice of you to tell me that yesterday after telling me you had given notice and were leaving for the West Coast. You never know what kind of cool life stories people have, even when they’re sitting feet away from you.

    Maybe I’ll show my girlfriend your site so she can get off her butt and sell that jewelry that she loves to make. She’s so intimidated and doesn’t know where to start. I keep on telling her that me selling some used iPods and old concert tapes on VHS made me a few dollars, but that she’d do MUCH better selling her custom creations.

    If she gets motivated enough after seeing your work then I promise I’ll buy you a new skateboard!

    Best of luck and it’s been a pleasure working with you.

    Tommy 🙂