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Fargo, North Dakota
Ciara Stockeland, Founder/COO
Editor's note: The DREAM BIG award, sponsored by Sam’s Club®, celebrates the success of small businesses and honors their contributions to America's economic growth. The Small Business of the Year, seven regional finalists, and 100 Blue Ribbon winners will be honored on June 14 during America's Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.
MODE, with its boutique shopping and designer products at overstock prices, boasts 11 total locations across the Upper Midwest and in South Carolina.
How did the company get started?
Ciara Stockeland noticed that her small town of Fargo was missing something: a place to buy maternity clothes. So without any retail experience, she opened Mama Mia in August 2006.
“I was a girl with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn,” Ciara says.
But that was just the start of Ciara’s retail journey. Not long after Mama Mia opened, a local trucking company asked Ciara to sell a load of liquidation apparel.
“Always looking for an opportunity to challenge myself and grow my business skills, I said ‘yes’ and opened a second store next door to the first,” Ciara adds.
What was meant to be a pop-up shop was the beginning of MODE. Customers quickly lined up, clamoring for the next MODE deal. As MODE demand skyrocketed, Ciara realized she had to make a choice about which store to keep.
“I decided to merge our two retail concepts and brought our designer overstock concept into the beautiful boutique environment that we had originally built,” says Ciara.
MODE’s focus is unbeatable customer service while delivering quality, designer overstock discounts. And in 2011, Ciara was ready for the next step: franchising. As the franchises increased, MODE hired a CFO to help move the business from the startup phase to a growth phase.
What is the store’s role in community involvement?
MODE values investing in its communities. Every month, the business gives jeans to each of its franchises to give to local women in need. The business is also an active partner with I Pour Life, an organization dedicated to women’s empowerment. In addition, proceeds from “Hand Up to End Poverty” shirts sold in MODE stores are used to buy sewing machines, storefronts, or some inventory for women wanting to start their own businesses in third world countries.
The company celebrates its employees with the MODE Moment Award, a trophy with a $50 gift card. MODE also hosts an Annual Franchise Convention.
What’s in the future for MODE?
“We want to grow,” Ciara says. “We will grow.” By the year 2024, MODE hopes to have 75 stores and be the No. 1 brand for aspiring franchisees. MODE is carefully planning to attain those goals and create a brand that can sustain.