Secrets to Success from a Record-Breaking Clothes Mentor Owner

‘SECRETS TO SUCCESS’ From a Record-Breaking Clothes Mentor Owner

After successfully managing a Fargo, North Dakota, resale clothing shop for eight years, Christine Ilvedson wanted to branch out and own her own store. She did her research and decided to go with NTY Franchise Company’s leading Clothes Mentor brand. An incredible journey began, culminating with record-breaking success and personal satisfaction, pride, and freedom.

During her eighth year of operation, Christine’s Fargo Clothes Mentor became the first of 146 nationwide resale clothing shops to top the $1 million sales mark before August. Incredibly, by year-end 2018, the unit surpassed $1.7 million in sales. We interviewed Christine to understand the secrets of her success which might surprise you.

Be Confident/Identify the Need

When Christine decided to go out on her own, she had confidence she could do the job and correctly saw the need in the community. She was thrilled she could secure the Fargo location for a Clothes Mentor — strategically located adjacent to the border of Minnesota.

“Fargo is very business friendly — known for low taxes, light regulation, and an inexpensive advertising market,” she says. “There was clearly a need in the community for an upscale resale women’s offering, so I seized the opportunity, and the community quickly embraced it.”

Despite a busy life as a mother of three, Christine forged ahead, never letting fear hamstring her goals. “I had great support from my husband Scott and was comforted throughout the learning and discovery process as I began to appreciate the power of combining NTY’s well-proven business model with my strong work ethic, positive attitude, and experience,” she says.

Still, her first year wasn’t without its challenges with the tough economic environment during the Great Recession and traffic snares due to nearby road construction. By year two, she was profitable with impressive growth from that point forward.

Know Your Local Market

When you open a Clothes Mentor, you are given access to the company’s exclusive nationwide inventory pricing and management software system. This helps you know what merchandise to buy; what price to pay for it; and how much to sell it for. “These systems are a great support and baseline information source – but you must know your local market,” Christine says.  “There is a fine line to having too much or too little of certain lines, brands and styles. Over time, you figure it out.”

Christine stresses you must “know what’s in demand; how to price it; and how to present it. You also must have clean, organized stores that look and even smell good!”

Christine stresses the display strategy is crucial and has her staff organize every item on the floor daily, with different sections restructured or rotated each week.

Employees First/Keep it Simple

“Staffing is crucial,” Christine advises. “Find or train a store manager and/or assistant manager who has or can quickly develop the skills to help run the business smoothly when you aren’t there.”

And, “Customers come second!” Christine proclaims. “Treat your employees well, and they’ll do a great job every day and — in turn – treat your customers well; with low employee turnover — it’s so important,” she preaches.  “Know that owning a Clothes Mentor is a very rewarding experience, but you are not curing cancer. It’s very important to keep it simple, be open to delegating, roll with the punches, have a positive attitude with a sense of humor, and always keep a happy and fun work environment.”

Christine has a manager, an assistant manager, and associates who help her run the business — handling product acquisition, pricing, placement, personal shopping, scheduling and advertising/social media. Several have stayed with her since she opened her doors eight years ago. “If you want to succeed, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses and that of your employees, and delegate and assign responsibilities accordingly,” she advises. “That way everyone is successful, happy and the business continues to flourish.”

Always Strive for More

As Christine’s Clothes Mentor location took off, she expanded the square footage twice and was the recipient of the NTY Franchise Company President’s Award in 2017. Despite all this – and a record-breaking 2018 performance – she never rests on her laurels.

She believes in marketing as a big business driver. She utilizes Instagram, Facebook, and even Snapchat to drive awareness and traffic as she works to establish and maintain strong relationships with her ever-expanding loyal customer base.

Collectively, Christine believes she and her team can reach even higher goals with the store, striving for $2 million in annual sales over the next several years.

Enjoy the Benefits

Like many Clothes Mentor owners with established, well-staffed, thriving businesses, Christine emphasizes the need to spend time doing other things.  For her this includes spending time with her family at her lake house, planning for an upcoming wedding and just simply reading. This is all made easier through Clothes Mentor’s cloud-based computer and software systems where the business can be monitored remotely in real-time from anywhere in the world.

“Beyond a rewarding experience and financial security, one of the greatest benefits of owning a Clothes Mentor is having time to do things I love to do,” she says. “I have refreshed energy, focus, and enthusiasm to ‘do me’ because we have followed the strategy for success the corporate team laid out for us!”

Check out the info below to learn more about Clothes Mentor and other resale concepts under the NTY Franchise company umbrella — including franchise opportunities in your region.


Founded in 2006 and located in Minnetonka, Minnesota, NTY Franchise Company is one of the largest forces in the rapidly growing category of upscale resale. It is the umbrella organization for three proven national resale clothing franchise brands: Clothes Mentor (women’s designer clothing franchise); Children’s Orchard (kids clothing franchise); and NTY Clothing Exchange (teens and young adults clothing franchise).

NTY also has two other successful national franchise concepts: Device Pitstop (electronics repair and resale franchise).

NTY’s senior leadership team has over 100 years of experience in resale. They work with franchisees at every stage of locating and establishing one of its brands including Research & Discovery; Business Planning & Budgeting; Store Location & Leasing; Financing, Design & Build-out; Point of Service Software & Systems; and Coaching, Managing & Marketing.

To learn more, visit our main page or give us a call (952)-923-1223.