Meet Jan Rhodes Norman at Ithacamade
Jan Rhodes Norman is one of downtown Ithaca’s truly dedicated retailers. During Jan’s past 40 years as a downtown entrepreneur, she’s developed many specialty shops in the community, including Cat’s Pajamas and Alphabet Soup, a pair of children’s toy stores that still exist today under new ownership; Sweet Dreams, a Japanese futon furniture; her longest business venture as the designer for a men’s women’s and children’s casual clothing line called Silk Oak; and Ithacamade, a gift store located inside of the historic Dewitt Mall where visitors can find dozens of handcrafted items made by highly skilled local artisans.
“Through the years, all of the businesses I have started were inspired by my desire to solve an unmet need that I saw in my community. I enjoy being part of this community. The Dewitt Mall, in particular, is like a big family. Downtown businesses are supportive of each other and our customers make a conscious effort to patronize their local, independent businesses. I also like that my business is within an easy walking distance of my house,” says Jan who moved to Ithaca from New York City in 1971.
When she’s not busy managing her shop, designing clothing, gardening, or tending to family affairs — she’s the mother of six children — Jan is out and about advocating for the community’s businesses. She is the co-founder of Local First Ithaca, a network of locally owned businesses and services, farmers, community members, and non-profits. She is also a Finger Lakes Reuse Board member, a GreenStar Council member and she serves on the Downtown Ithaca Alliance Board of Directors.
In 2014, Jan was recognized by the Alternatives Federal Credit Union with the Jeff Furman Award for her social responsibility in business by exemplifying a commitment to socially-minded business practices, including being a certified living wage employer.
Some fun facts about Jan are that she was a child star on the Ed Sullivan Show and also dazzled crowds in New York and Los Angeles nightclubs, but we’ll leave it to Jan to tell you the stories from her youth.
To learn more about Jan and Ithacamade, simply visit the store at 215 N. Cayuga St.