Clothes Mentor, the nation’s top women’s clothing franchise, buys and sells high quality, gently-used designer clothing, shoes, jewelry and other accessories that are like new — but for a lot less.
We recently spoke with Christine Ilvedson, owner of Clothes Mentor in Fargo, N.D., to find out more about her experiences in opening up a franchise. We learned what challenges she faced, how much she spent before opening the doors and what she would do differently if she had the chance.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Five and a half years.
What were you doing before becoming a franchise owner?
I was in retail management.
Why did you choose your franchise?
I chose Clothes Mentor because I saw a need for an upscale women’s resale store in our community. There were places in Fargo that paid cash on the spot for children’s’ clothing, another that paid cash for teen clothing but none that paid cash for women’s fashions.
RELATED: TOP RETAIL FRANCHISES TO OWN
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your franchise?
Finding a great bank to work with who shared our vision was probably our biggest challenge. For a lot of franchises finding the ideal retail space to lease is challenging, but luckily we had no problem with that.
Where did you research or get advice about starting a franchise?
I spoke with other Clothes Mentor franchisees and with other entrepreneurs that had a lot of experience with franchising.
How much did you spend before your doors were officially opened?
About $120k, including $45k we paid to locals selling us their gently used clothing and apparel for inventory before we opened to sell.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Most days I’m on the sales floor greeting customers and sorting through clothing items they are looking to sell. Some days I work from home answering emails, working on marketing or doing payroll/bookkeeping, and some days I’m running errands or at meetings.
What is your secret to success?
Treat your customers really well, treat your employees even better and lead by example.
What would you do differently if you had to do it all over?
Looking back now there are a few things with our grand opening I would have done differently (time of year we opened and some advertising ideas). I also would have trusted my instincts a little more!
Where do you see your business in five years?
Hopefully growing and changing! We have expanded once but would love to expand again if the opportunity presented itself. Now that we are well established in the community we are looking to do more charity work and partnerships.
What is one trend that really excites you?
Clothes Mentor has a new loyalty rewards program that is so awesome! It is a great program that has a wealth of information for us as owners and our customers are loving it!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I love our online banking and online payroll resources.
We LOVE social media… especially Instagram and Facebook.
We have a great website for our franchise owners… all the resources and networking at our fingertips!
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
I did not have an official mentor but sought advice from as many business owners as I could.
What advice do you have for others looking to own a franchise?
Go for it! Do your research and make sure there is a need in your community. Talk to as many other franchise owners as you can. Be positive and realistic.
Would you recommend others be franchisees? Why?
Absolutely! Clothes Mentor Corporate helped me SO much in our opening processes. I honestly would have been lost trying to do all that on my own. Everything from writing our business plan to ordering hangers was laid out for me in a step-by-step process. They are full of great resources and guidance.
Where can people get more information on Clothes Mentor franchise opportunities?
Visit the website here.
Where can people find your Clothes Mentor franchise on social media?
RELATED: TOP HOME BASED FRANCHISES