Free Enterprise Staff  | April 22, 2016

A La MODE: Franchising the American Dream

Nearly a decade ago, Ciara Stockeland of Fargo, North Dakota, noticed that her small town was lacking a certain retail market: maternity wear. Seeing this as a business opportunity, and without any retail experience, she opened her first retail store, Mama Mia, in August of 2006. Within six months, Stockeland was asked by a liquidation apparel company to build out her retail footprint further by opening another store – MODE – to sell their discounted goods.

“I was a girl with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn,” said Stockeland.

With an increasing demand for MODE, Stockeland had to make her first hard business decision: which store would become her brand?

“I decided to merge our two retail concepts and brought our designer overstock concept into the beautiful boutique environment we had originally built,” said Stockeland. Combing the two stores, a new MODE was born.

After 5 years of successful business, Stockeland decided the best way to build her brand was to franchise. In 2011, MODE, a 2016 Blue Ribbon Regional Finalist, opened its first franchise store. In 10 years, MODE has grown to 11 stores, 10 of which are franchised, in the Upper Midwest and South Carolina, and Stockeland’s goal is to have 75 stores by the year 2024.

MODE emphasizes investing in its store’s communities. Each month, each of its franchises is given pairs of jeans that are donated to local women in need. The company is also an active partner with I Pour Life, an organization dedicated to women’s empowerment and sustainability.

“To own your own business is an American Dream,” she said. “To create a brand that can sustain itself and grow is an American Story.”