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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.