Michelle Farnsworth
 
 
    
 
A unique fashion display, constructed of old doors, greets customers entering BREA. (Michelle Farnsworth)
 
 

 
Fitting rooms are highlighted by a splash of yellow, pop art and modern barrel lighting. Shh... (Michelle Farnsworth)
 
 

 
Lena Sedevie models some of BREA's latest fashions (Michelle Farnsworth)
 
 

Sometimes you don't have to travel far to find new experiences and adventures. There's a city located just a few miles across the Missouri River from Bismarck (or vice versa), and although you may not think it has all the bells and whistles of its sister city, Mandan is coming into its own.

I have been lovin' on Mandan for a few years now. I have found pockets of style, creativity, deliciousness and love while frequenting these businesses. A few of my favorites are Susie Q's Craft Emporium, Five Nations Arts, Harvest Brazilian Grill and BREA.

Recently the owner of BREA, Eve Kostelecky, decided to take the plunge and purchase the old Mocha & More building on Main Street. BREA's former location was in a residential area and didn't offer much space. Living on one side of the building and having a store on the other half offered challenges that most small business owners don't usually contend with.

"It was tucked away. But we wanted to start small to see if something was going to work," Kostelecky says. "We started from humble beginnings, only open a couple times a week."

Soon BREA became the talk of Bismarck and Mandan's fashion community, and Kostelecky knew that her idea was working. The challenges of space and location had been overcome.

Now Mandan's Main Street has received a little excitement and style with BREA giving the old space new life. The new storefront has stained bricks, new windows, a stamped concrete entrance and bright store signage. This is definitely what the doctor ordered. I can only imagine that this energy will benefit all of BREA's neighbors and bring business to Mandan.

Talking with Kostelecky, who is an optometrist by trade at Eyes on Parkway, you feel her energy, dedication and love of fashion. She's committed to her business. It's what drives her to do something exciting and different for Downtown Mandan.

"We are a perfect match for Mandan. We have been in business here for two and a half years, but I know there are more Mandan residents we hope to reach with our new store," says Kostelecky.

Walking into the transformed space, instantly you feel like you're walking into a Downtown Seattle boutique. The exposed brick walls, open space and enormous ceilings, different wall treatments and modern lighting give BREA the urban look that customers are going to eat up. The style and design makes you feel comfortable, important and ready to shop.

I really wanted to know what inspired Kostelecky's design ideas and how she came up with all of the different surfaces and wall treatments, including an old barn wood wall, pallet railings, concrete cash wrap countertop, and exposed brick. Hardwood floors anchor the store, showing off a little of the building's history.

"We are inspired by hardwood stores," Kostelecky beams. "There are so many options available right at your fingertips. Already assembled, pre-made."

Reclaimed barn wood is all the rage these days, but I was hoping this barn wood had a story. I wanted it to be special barn wood and not something they found on the side of the road. And my wish was granted, because BREA's barn wood wall is from BREA store manager Kellie Sheldon's family farm in Washburn. Yes! Perfect. Everyone came out to help take down the barn wood, including an old farmhand named -- are you ready for this? -- "Hammer." This gentleman, who is along in years, was only too eager to lend a hand with a hammer and crowbar to painstakingly remove nails one at a time. The result is definitely worth all the effort and collected love.

Natural colors blend brilliantly with Kostelecky's touches of modern influences. There are modern light fixtures that are yummy and extravagant. I love a good chandelier or barrel light and BREA doesn't disappoint. The furniture in the lounge/children's play area is also modern with straight, simple lines. A surprise pop of yellow highlights the wall behind a bank of mirrors, just as you would a page from a textbook.

"We are excited about our new store. It matches our style. We love the urban feel to it," says Kostelecky.

I also love that BREA is going to carry a line of yoga clothing, Yogi Brea, which is Pam Kostelecky's baby. Utilizing the hardwood floors and wide open space, yoga classes will be held twice a week. Another genius addition to the store is a children's clothing line. Looking at all of the adorable and stylish children's clothing made me want to have another baby. (Well, not really, but they are so stylish, it makes you envious for the little rascals that get to don this apparel.)

Family is the foundation of BREA. This clothing store is not your typical chain found in any mall in any city. BREA has always been a family affair. Everyone works together to transform, build, paint, stain and design a space that caters to a large market: teens, young adults, plus sizes, the fitness-minded, children and everyone in between. There will be a fashion forward, affordable piece for every customer at BREA.

"The whole store is based on the love of people," Kostelecky says, smiling with her big, pretty eyes sparkling in the chandelier light.

I couldn't agree more.



 
Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.