At MODE we love our basics and essential pieces almost as much as we love our $40 designer jeans.  We’ve also noticed that our customers love being able to find those pieces in our stores as well.  Luckily our MODE stores all offer essentials in the form of camisoles, tanks and t-shirts that provide amazing options for all types of looks.  Today we are going to focus on the ever so amazing t-shirt and why we love it.

Basic t-shirt: ok, this one is a given, ladies.  A great pair of jeans, an awesome fitting tee and a bunch of great accessories.  We are talking classic, cute and comfortable.  The tee, slightly tucked in the front paired with your favorite bracelets, necklace or scarf give the all around on point look.

Basic t-shirt: paired with a layering piece.  You’ve seen our love for our friend the blazer and it’s cousin the cardigan, but pairing those two with the basic tee adds a fun new variety to the look. A blazer or cardigan can often be used to warm a look up or add more of a business casual look.  Now taking these pieces matched with a great pair of jeans and a tee can also be a perfect combo for a casual look.  Another reason we love this is that you can mix the colors a bit.  One example is a printed blazer or a fun colored one can be paired with a great grey or white tee and can add just casual touch you are wanting.  Again, spice it up with a fun necklace and you are set.

Basic t-shirt: with patterns, pockets and prints.  This is a fun one we are seeing lately in our stores.  A basic tee with some colored stripes and a pocket with a different fabric.  It’s still your basic tee, but with a bit of a twist.  These are great as they can be worn alone and offer the option of pairing with a colored jean or legging for a fun yet dressy look, or worn in the two ways listed above.

However you look at it, the basic tee is here to stay and we are thankful for that.  Spruce up your fall wardrobe this year with these options that won’t break the bank.

8.19.16 Back to the Basics

MODE Cedar Rapids Manager featured by PWN

Trudy Claassen, manager of MODE Cedar Rapids was recently featured by the Professional Women’s Network of Eastern Iowa.  With a background in fashion and a heart for customer service, Trudy provides each and every customer with an unbeatable experience! Check out the full feature below!


Lessons Learned on the Cherry Creek Trail

Recently I had the opportunity to brave a North Pacific forest trail as a part of my morning workout.  This got me thinking about how life is so intertwined, as this run held so many similarities to the choice individuals make when they blaze the trail of business. It’s important to point out that I am by no means a fitness expert. My somewhat ADD mind is quickly bored by any length of physical activity and therefore running or participating in gym activities for any length of time is a rare occurrence. On the other hand, the outdoors calms my sprit, allows clarity of thought, and quite frankly gives me constant change and unpredictability. Today, this led me to choose to put on my running shoes and find a trail to forge.

What does running have to do with business? Let me draw the analogies that took flight in my mind as I ran through the pines today.

  1. When choosing the path of small business ownership remember there will be many surprises ahead. Choosing a new running path is like choosing a business: you may know the name or style of business, you may have the perfect concept or choose to join an existing franchise model, but like a new trail, you have no idea of exactly what lies ahead in your personal business journey.
  2. When starting out, have the end in mind. I knew this path was 1.75 miles and would finish by the clubhouse. The end to me was finishing the loop and coming back to the lodge with an activity completed. The same principal follows when building a business. What is your end goal? Will you build to sell, stay small and dedicated in your market, or franchise your model? Where do you envision ending your business journey?
  3. When in doubt, follow the lead of others. Illustration: I was about half way through on my trail run when I was suddenly filled with self doubt: “Should I be out here alone? What if I take the wrong fork in the trail? What if I chose a path that was above my skill level”? It was then that I heard two experienced runners coming up behind me. I stepped aside, allowed them to pass and gladly followed their lead! There is no shame in finding business owners that are more experienced than yourself, reaching out to them to ask questions, then follow in their steps of success.
  4. When ready to give up, push yourself to press on. The path I chose this morning was much hillier than anyone had told me! Being from North Dakota where we run on un-ending flat lands, I was suddenly overwhelmed by what was ahead. I was not anticipating a run up and down hills, around rocks and over streams. How often as business owners do we say “If I had only known this would be so hard, look this way, or cause this change in my life?”  In times like this, we are given two choices: we can turn back or move forward. Today I moved forward, pushing myself to finish strong!
  5. When finished, stretch your muscles. In physical activity this means a floor mat and a cool down. In business this means stretching the muscles of the mind through learning, listening and reading.

Get Your MODE On!




How could it be that time already?  We ask ourselves this very question each year, in addition to: where did the summer go?  Is it back to school already?  I feel like we just started the summer?  I planned on saving for back to school shopping and here it is upon us!  If you are asking yourself those questions, we have you covered.  We’ve heard it all and we are also in your world, so let’s look at some ways to make back to school shopping a touch easier this year.

  1. Take stock in what you already have!  Yes – take those fall totes out and do an inventory!  This is especially important if you are following a budget.  You may have packed some fall items away and forgot about some of the amazing pieces you have.
  2. Make room for more!  Clean out that closet, ditch and donate pieces that no longer fit, no longer serve a purpose and are simply taking up space. (hello prom dress from two years ago – it is time for a new home!) – this will also help with your budget as you can consign or sell these piece to add to your shopping fund.
  3. Outfit plan with your current pieces.  Have a great cardigan that you love but rarely wear? Can you envision it with a new color underneath or a fun new pair of colored jeans to spruce it up?  Plan to be on the lookout for something to add to that piece.
  4. Make a list!  Yes, lists aren’t just for the grocery store.  This will keep you on task so you don’t find yourself at the end of the day saying, wow – I got all of this great stuff but didn’t get anything that I had to have.  We know you may venture off of the list (duh – we love shopping as much as you do!) but keep it as a good reminder of those pieces you have to have for certain events or upcoming school year necessities.
  5. Go bold.  Try it out girls – be a bold, beautiful you this year and try a new color, new style or even a whole new look.  Cut your hair, try a new jean style, update your color pallet, whatever works for you – make it yours and yes, you can even do this on a budget!

Wishing you an enjoyable back to school shopping season.  We can’t wait to see you at MODE!

8.12.16 Back to school




If you have been into a MODE store lately, you have noticed a look that our customers have fallen in love with as much as we have!  Two words, Dip Dye!  Now don’t be confusing this amazing fashion statement with the tie dye look of the past.  With a variety of cuts and patterns, this look combines a fun and feminine style.

A few fun ways to wear the look is to go casual and combine the top with a fabulous pair of jeans or make a white and colored dip dye pop with a great pair of white jeans!  Even our simple tee or tanks that have a dip dye look to them are perfect to add some variety to a casual look.

8.5.16 Dip Dye

The Queen of Overstock

Fargo INC Magazine sat down with Founder and COO, Ciara Stockeland to discuss overstock, franchising and the MODE culture.  To see the entire issue, visit


Trading My “Coffee and Jeans” for…Coffee and Yoga Pants?

Finding a work-life balance, recharging the battery, relaxing, enjoying down time. Four phrases that busy women often hear, covet with a passion and yet find hard to do. From one busy woman to another – sometimes you just have to trade those jeans for yoga pants!

Coffee and jeans are my life. Jeans by career, coffee by design (and let’s be honest, to help me better my career!!!). At the end of a long day, on a weekend or on vacation, the last thing I want to pull on is another pair of jeans. Don’t misunderstand – I have a PASSION for a good pair of jeans. Nothing looks so classy and put together as a well fitting pair of jeans with a white tee and a stack of bracelets to add a little sparkle! In all honesty, I believe that a good fitting pair of jeans is sexier than a little black dress. However, jeans to me signify “work mode” (pardon the pun)!  I have found that in order to create a work life balance that works for me, I have to literally compartmentalize my day by what I allow to consume my thoughts and this starts with what I wear.

My husband, Jim and I started our concept when our children were young and because I have boundless energy (from the coffee, mind you) I am often asked how I create a work life balance. How do I unplug? How do I separate my work life from my everyday? Choosing to slow down when away from the office, spending as much time outdoors in fresh air as possible (front porch or long walk …either will do), reading to silence my thoughts and scheduling intentional and consistent time with family are all tools that ensure that I continue to prioritize what matters in life.

Everyone’s work life balance looks different. It is not important what it looks like to you, but rather that you strive for it as you see fit. As with everything we do, small choices create habits and habits comprise our patterns of life. If something as small as choosing yoga pants at the end of the day can create a habit of self reflection then I will choose those yoga pants every day as I work to be a better me and Get My MODE On!IMG_2899


Summer is still here and we can confirm that that by the high temps we are seeing across the country!  While some minds are already wandering to the fall clothing options, we have a fun fashion tip that will keep you feeling the summer vibes regardless of what your closet or favorite fashion icons are saying.

One of the easier tips that can be changed depending on events, your mood or anytime you want is nail color.  The perfect hue can fancy up even the most ordinary look.  Some of the colors we love this summer are navy, grey/silver, coral, rose and the ever classics of cherry red and bubblegum pink.  Obviously some of these are easy to transition into fall (don’t worry we won’t call the fashion police on you) as the darker hues and the more neutral tones are often just as beautiful with the fall clothing colors.  We are also in major love with the options for the at home manicures lately.  Gel polish sets are a great investment as many times they include a polish/base with a good gel top coat.  No need to purchase that pricy get light either, the sets often offer the same benefits as the expensive packs.  Updating that manicure for the next season or color choice is easy as pie!

Now go out and enjoy your day, pick up some fun polish and Get Your MODE On!

7.29.16 Nail the perfect look

The Challenges and Nuances of Starting a Franchise Business

Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Magazine recently sat down with Ciara Stockeland of MODE to discuss the growth from owning one location to franchising.  See the full article here


We are taking a different angle on our Fashion Tip Friday today as we think it is one of the most important tips for all women.  While we highly believe in good style, great looks and easy ways to look and feel your best, we have an even bigger idea.  Our tip this week: Be Kind and Smile.  As women today we have immense pressure to look great, be healthy and have it all together.  The pressures of social media, perfect filters and criticism (even from those we don’t even know) on our every move can add such pressure to women who are simply being themselves.  We hear stories of body shaming, mom shaming, or over the top criticism of women who are putting themselves out there as leaders, story changers or advocates.  How about we, as women, play nice, act nice, smile and give other women grace and not criticism.  Building up other women and approaching your day with kindness and a smile is free, it is the best accessory, the perfect outfit and the answer to many questions on rock any look.

Let’s make change MODE girls and add some kindness and a smile to the world today!

7.22.16 The best tip we can give all women

How to Increase Franchise Opportunities for Women

Ciara Stockeland was recently featured on the International Franchise Associate blog regarding opportunities for women in franchising.  As Stockeland writes “while the franchising industry is chock-full of viable career opportunities for both genders, it can be a particularly smart decision for women entrepreneurs.”  See the full article here:


How to Increase Franchise Opportunities for Women

MODE Founder and COO, Ciara Stockeland recently provided her thoughts on increasing opportunities for women in the franchise industry.  As Stockeland notes, “while the franchising industry is chock-full of viable career opportunities for both genders, it can be a particularly smart decision for women entrepreneurs.”  To read the full feature, click on the link below!


Adjust the Sails!

When I pulled off my cute striped blazer on Thursday in order to easily lift and stack 11, 25 lb boxes to drag down to the UPS hub, something suddenly hit me.  You see,  just like I was changing outfits to easily transition from the role media interview to delivery woman, so an entrepreneur has to be able to maneuver seamlessly from role to role as they work to build their company. In fact I had just talked to the editor of Fargo INC! about that very thing just an hour earlier.  In our time together I told him that entrepreneurs that succeed are those that can adjust the sails and change direction depending on the wind. I learned this early on in my small business journey and to be quite frank, the same message applies to me today. Often this redirection can look like a significant concept change.  A great example of this is when we launched the reinvented “MODE concept” in 2008 and chose to move forward from the Mama Mia maternity concept which had first positioned us in retail.  Similarly, it can look like minor adjustments throughout the day as you observe the needs to the business and the team.

Take last Thursday for example, I started my day with a commute to Fargo for a press interview. Concept conversation, reminiscing about the company’s history and culture talk were all part of that first hour of the day. When the reporter and photographer left, there was hands on work that needed to be done. Throwing aside the blazer and multiple accessories (all of which looked fabulous for the camera but would hinder my mobility), I boxed up, labeled and delivered boxes so that my team wouldn’t have to stop their day to solve a problem that I had identified and could easily do. Fast forward to putting my blazer back on for meetings, conversations, a store visit; blazer back off for an in store team meeting and office hour and then back on one last time for another commute, landing me at an evening event celebrating women.

Just as the ability to be agile and adapt to the needs around us on a daily basis and big picture is essential for a forward trajectory in any company, so the ability to stay on task and use time efficiently is key. Although a master of none, I have observed that all great entrepreneurial leaders find these pieces to be key to their success. So, with that knowledge, I press ahead always ready to adjust my sails as needed whenever the wind drives our ship, called Small Business on a different, unknown or new course.

Get Your MODE On!

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Preparing yourself for shopping seems a bit strange, doesn’t it?  Well, we have started to notice that so many of our customers come in with the wrong “gear” to get gauge a new look.  We totally understand the spur of the moment shopping adventure, but we gathered a few tips for you if you are on a mission for the perfect look.

Shopping for jeans:

  • Be sure you wear (or bring) the shoes you would normally wear with your pants.  This can be helpful for both the look of the style you are trying on, but also for the length.  At MODE we offer alterations, but often women don’t have the right shoes with so they estimate.  Save yourself the guessing and toss a pair of shoes in your car for days you are pants shopping.
  • Wear the right underwear!  For real – we aren’t trying to be funny!  The ones we wear under our workout gear may not be even close to what we would wear on a normal day.

Shopping for tops:

  • The most important tip is wear a bra if you normally wear a bra.  If you are like many of our MODE girls, you love a workout top with a built in bra for casual days and working out.  Not having a normal bra can really add to the need to improvise on the look.
  • Wear the right bra!  Again, the workout look is a-ok with us, but we know it can be tough to imagine that great tank dressed up when all you can see is the bright orange sports bra under it at the moment.
  • Have a blazer you need to match, or a top you need a cardigan for?  Bring it with – this will help you in deciding and you can try them together.  Let our team know what you are looking for and show us the item, we can help you pull together a fun look to match the item you currently own.

Shopping in general:

  • Ditch the suitcase of a purse when you are ready to shop.  Do yourself a favor and get a small bag that you can throw over your shoulder or wear without discomfort.  Fanny pack it up if you need, but don’t add bulk to your day!
  • We love accessories at MODE, but another favor you will thank us for – leave them at home when you shop.  Taking off scarves, necklaces, bracelets, watches, etc. can get annoying.  Go simple, add some fun earrings and a simple necklace that can be worn easily.  Less worry about forgetting those items in the room too!

Happy Shopping and Get Your MODE On!

7.15.16 Prepare for the dressing room


We’ve all been there – trying to decide if it is a casual, comfy or classy outdoor event.  It is a struggle when the weather is hot, the sun is shining and the humidity is creeping in.  We all want to look good, but we know the term “BBQ” means many things to many people.  We came up with some tips for you to dress the part regardless of the weather and event type.

Tip #1 – the invite is simply “BBQ”, but you aren’t sure of the attire – or will there be activities?  How about this, pair a nice pair of shorts (denim or cotton) with a fun and flattering tank.  A nice loose tank like the chiffon tanks we have at MODE pair well as they can be easily dressed up or down.  We then suggest a long, yet simple necklace or a fun pair of earrings.  These can be easily taken off and put in a purse if the environment is a bit more low key.  Add a simple pair of nicer flip flops or a strappy sandal and call it good!

Tip #2 – the invite is a “BBQ” with a pool party, but you know it isn’t the type of place where you can show up with your floatie and snorkel.  We suggest wearing a fun sun dress or a strapless maxi along with some strappy sandals.  A bonus of this is that you can put you swim top on as a strapless bra under the dress and easily change into your suit if a dive in the pool becomes an option.

Tip #3 – a BBQ that turns into a later evening with a possible bonfire.  Hot days don’t always mean hot nights.  Some of our MODE girls live in climates that get downright cool at night.  For this type of event, pair your daytime attire (be it a dress, shorts and a tank or a pair of capris) with a nice scarf.  Sometimes a chill can be avoided by a little coverage on the neck area.  A light cardigan is also a great go to as it can easily be brought in a bag or purse.

We don’t get many months of summer, so be sure you are enjoying them to the fullest and always feeling great!

7.1.16 Surviving the Summer BBQ


Ironing can be a real drag, can we just be honest about that.  When I first learned to iron, my mom gave me the task of starting with cloth hankies, you know the ones used in lieu of a tissue?  Yep, family tradition to still have those!  I felt so cool, testing out my skills and thought to myself, “I can’t wait until my adult years when I can wake up to iron before work!” Let’s flash forward to the year 2016 – I now dread the task…like can’t even stand seeing an iron!  That all being said, as an adult I know there are reasons and seasons for the iron and much to my dismay, I get wrinkles in my wardrobe.  If you are like me, you may end up LOVING some of the tips to eliminate wrinkles without the iron.

  1. Spray clothes with a mist of water (buy yourself a fun spray bottle if you must), gently smooth them out and let them hang.  This won’t work if you are trying it out a minute before you leave the house.  Give it some time to dry!
  2. Lightly wet clothes (with that fun spray bottle you just bought!) and put them in the dryer on low.  Be sure that you are doing this right before you wear them and you are not letting them sit to get wrinkled yet again in the dryer.
  3. Use your flat iron for a double purpose.  Be sure your flat iron is clear of any hair products and that your clothing can take the high heat.  This is a good option in a bind and you won’t have to haul out the irons evil twin, the ironing board!

There you have it!  Don’t get angry with those wrinkles, get even and get on your way to a great day!

7.8.16 Tips for those who despise the iron





Until recently, I thought it was my weird obsession, I was a sunglasses hoarder! In cleaning out my stash of shades, I found out that many women have a collection of sunglasses similar to their shoe collection.  It’s true, there can be a shoe and a shade for every occasion, let’s examine the options!

The formal occasion sunglasses: these often include the types of frames that have clean and simple lines.  Less attention on the frames and more on the simplicity of it all.  Soft corners, casual colors and a matching color scheme with your outfit.

The casual sunglasses: while many expensive brands are designing the plastic looking shades, these are often more for a casual look.  Given the texture and sometimes the color and style of the look, they go well with jeans, shorts or even a day at the beach in your favorite swimsuit.

The concert and party shades: These are the fun pop of color, eclectic styles and trendier looking frames.  Often big brands will slap their logo on a great pair of shades and use them as giveaways.  If you are one to lose your shades at big events, seek these businesses out before you hit up the next big concert or festival.  The fun pops of color are also so great to go with any fun summer look and are the perfect accessory!

One final tip as it is definitely wedding season.  We recommend not wearing sunglasses at extremely formal events, unless it is after the event.  Even the fanciest of shades do not always go well with that black tie affair!

Ladies, with sunglasses priced at $14.99 everyday at MODE, you can definitely find a look to compliment any outfit!

6.24.16 Sunglasses for every occasion

Meet MODE, Dream Big Midwest Regional Finalist

Learn more about MODE, our concept, our growth and our future goals!

MODE Founder and COO testifies at US Senate Committee

On Thursday, June 16 MODE Founder and COO, Ciara Stockeland testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship regarding the challenges of the National Labor Relations Board’s new joint employer standard and it’s impact on franchising. Check out the full story here!




Distressing denim can often be puzzling to women as we cannot fathom ruining a perfectly good pair of our favorite fashion item.  Many women have received the comment “you PAID for those jeans with holes?” but ladies, we know that too often, THE most comfortable pair of jeans can have holes, are slightly thinning and are well worn.  Here is a great tip to distressing your very own pair of denim, so you can avoid paying the high prices that can often come from a regular pair of distressed denim.

First we suggest finding a great pair of jeans in your closet that you don’t wear a lot as they have “seen better days” but you can’t give up.  We know you have those in your closet and instead of ditching them, distress them and give them a whole new look.  If you took our advice from earlier FTF posts and donated or consigned your jeans, hit up a local thrift shop for a cheap pair that can be easily re-purposed.

  1. Put the jeans on and make marks on your jeans where you are wanting a good area of distress with chalk or a pencil.  This works well so you don’t end up with awkward placing in areas you are not wanting the distressing.
  2. Use sandpaper on the marks that you created for some extra distressing.  If you want to keep this to a minimum, feel free to skip this step.
  3. Cut small slits on areas that have been marked.  These slits will need to be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from each other so you can easily pull out the synthetic thread (indigo thread) from the denim.
  4. Grab your trusty tweezer and pull the synthetic threads from the area.  Don’t stress about getting them all out as some will naturally fall into place when washed.
  5. Once you have all areas done that you wish to (don’t forget the pocket areas – both front and back!) toss those jeans into the wash on a cold cycle so the distressing can be enhanced with a little natural scrub in the tub!
  6. Throw the jeans in the dryer or air dry as you wish.
  7. Rock your “new” pair of jeans like the beauty that you are!

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