Celebrate yourself

20180506_071111It’s been a little while since I did one of my pay it forwards so when a little bird told me about a local woman who is currently going through a challenging time I was excited to get involved :) My goal was to help her find a new outfit to help her celebrate her new look with confidence!

Timber Johnson has been battling psoriasis for 14 years. Back in March, at the recommendation from Mayo Clinic physicians, she made the decision that it was time to shave her head. The reason? The psoriasis medicine had a better chance of being effective when absorbed into her scalp vs. her long hair. While her husband and 3 brothers all stepped up to show support by shaving their heads too, losing her hair significantly impacted her self-esteem. That’s when a mutual friend, suggested that they go and find a few outfits at The Nines that helped her feel as though this new hair-do is part of her new style. Clothes & accessories certainly can’t solve our physical challenges; however, when a person discovers a flattering pair of pants or a top that is cut to accentuate one’s shape, it can change the trajectory of their emotional state. Over the course of a few hours, Timber learned all kinds of fashion tips and tricks for her body shape…and she began to see herself differently. She began to see herself as the beautiful person she is.

Watching Timber at the store yesterday was truly inspirational and a great reminder that when life hands you lemons you put on an awesome outfit and rock it out like the badass God created you to be! When we look good, we feel good. And another thing I know: when we help others…we can feel pretty good too!

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Mini vacations are my fave!


Some of my favorite trips are mini road trips with my husband or with the whole family. My husband Steve and I had the best date night a few months ago when we went out for dinner and then stayed at the new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott next to the lake and only about 6 blocks from where we live. We had a blast and it completely felt like we were in another city. It was a much needed reset! You really don’t have to travel far to have a lot of fun. So this awesome date night we had inspired me to create a shopping getaway event at my store on Feb 24th with tropical drinks, treats from the bakery and we are giving away one mini trip package for two on Feb 24th! Package includes: one nights stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in DL with a lake view, two $100 Nines gift cards, $40 For lunch at Brygge Taps & Tastes, $60 for dinner at Hub 41! Visit our Instagram or Facebook page to get entered! This would be fun for a girls trip, date night trip or a Mom & Me day! Hope to see you February 24th!


Lauren Zima

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Who Inspires you?

20171127_090629I remember watching tv shows like Oprah when I was little where an inspirational person would get nominated for a makeover or a prize and I remember thinking I should write in and nominate my Mom. I really wanted my Mom to know how incredible I thought she was and I also wanted to see her get a little TLC since she always made everyone else a priority. Now that I’m a mother of four I look back in awe at how tough she was and how she managed to work two jobs and take care of us. I think back to hard times like when the U.S. bombed Baghdad when I was 9 years old and my Mom was immediately deployed. I still get teary eyed remembering that day at the airport when my Dad had to pull me out of her arms because I didn’t want to see my Momma go to war. I draw strength from inspirational people like my Mom and I know others do too. In a world where we often forget just how many incredible people there are around us I want to take a little time to celebrate somebody who’s inspiring others. This holiday season I want to pay it forward to a special someone who inspires you! Message us and nominate someone who deserves a little pampering from us! We will be picking one lucky winner who we will be surprising in December! Happy Giving Tuesday!

Donut Ever Give Up!

View More: http://amberlangerud.pass.us/thenines

When my husband and I heard the news that the owners of Lake Country Bakery (Dan & Kim) were retiring and selling their business we were bummed at the thought of our downtown losing this little gem that sits just two spots down from THE NINES. This little bakery has been around forever and has always been a place where we treat our kids to a periodic fresh snail donut or a dinosaur cookie. Every morning you can smell the freshly baked bread & donuts smell that permeates Washington Avenue and it’s hard to imagine not having that anymore. We knew that other people in our community also liked this bakery but we had no idea that this little bakery was supplying most of our favorite local restaurants ( Brew, Lakeside, Hub 41, Hotel Shoreham, Zorbaz, Bleachers, Holiday Inn to name a few), and our local hospitals, hotels & gas stations with bread, buns, donuts, cakes and other goodies to the point where Dan & Kim can hardly keep up with their booming bakery business.

Dan & Kim are ready to retire now but dreamed of selling their bakery to someone who would keep it a bakery for the community to enjoy. My husband and I talked a lot about buying the bakery but just wasn’t sure if we should pull the trigger. I tried to put the bakery idea in the back of my head and forget about it, much like I did four years ago when I had what I thought was a crazy idea of opening a clothing store called THE NINES lol! Like clockwork things would keep popping up that made us think this bakery thing might be meant to be. Including our trip to Magnolia Market in Waco a few months ago where our plan was to get inspired for a little home decor nook in our Nines store but I ended up falling in love with Joanna’s little bakery while we were there. It was another big sign. I told my husband that I don’t want anything for our life that wasn’t in the cards but I do believe sometimes you have to push the envelope and not just wait for things to fall into your lap. So late one night I asked my husband to post something on his personal Facebook page and ask for experienced bakers who were looking for a new experience and if we got any bites we should take it as a sign it was meant to be and if we fall flat we give up and chalk it up to it was meant for someone else. We ended up finding talented bakers and an award winning cake decorator so we took that as the final signs that we were meant to buy this adorable little bakery!

I don’t know if I wanted to buy this bakery because food has always been one of my passions or if the HGTV lover in me and my husband couldn’t wait to update and revamp this bakery into the bakery of our dreams or if it was knowing from one entrepreneur couple to another how much time, sweat, tears & love has been poured into this business by Dan & Kim over the last 25 years but something touched us and we felt we needed to keep it running.

Dan & Kim are staying on with us at the bakery through the summer to train and teach our amazing baking team all of their recipes for a smooth transition. We want the community to be a big part of this bakery so we will be doing taste tests and other fun promotions very soon. This fall/winter we will begin the renovation process where we will be revamping this sweet little spot with my creative ideas and my husband’s amazing carpentry skills. The bakery will stay open it’s normal hours throughout this process. We look forward to serving you at what we will be renaming “Crafted Bakery” as everything we bake will be hand crafted from scratch just like the good old days. We are excited and so proud to continue on with many of Dan & Kim’s recipes and will also be adding lots of our personal favorite recipes inspired from our home and our travels :) Like our Crafted Bakery page to stay updated!


It takes a village


It’s already been a year since I wrote this post below after receiving a letter from Becker County Human Services. After it posted last year THE NINES ended up raising enough money to send local foster kids to camp and they even hand wrote me the sweetest thank you letters! If you didn’t read my post from last year please read and enjoy 10% off all of your purchases all week both online and in the store (3/27 – 4/1). We will be donating a percentage of our sales for the entire week to help send local kids to camp again this summer! Use coupon code camp10 online.


PLEASE READ! I received this letter last week from Becker County Human Services asking for a small donation to help local foster kids go to summer camp. I’ve never openly talked about this before (and I will probably go throw up in the bathroom after this posts as I don’t like to get personal lol) but I was in foster care for a very short period of time when I was 14. I started telling my husband one of the painful memories that came to my mind after reading the Becker County letter and I couldn’t stop crying. When I think back and remember how traumatic it was and how I almost gave up on my life, I can’t help but want to somehow help these kids and give them some type of glimmer of hope and let them know how loved they truly are and that even with a sometimes tough beginning in life there is a very bright future ahead even though you can’t always see it. I’m not going to share my full story as I’m saving it for a book I’m writing but I felt I needed to share this. Monday and Tuesday this week I will be giving a percentage of my sales at THE NINES to help these fabulous local foster children go to summer camp. Enjoy 10% off your purchases and shop for a good cause Monday & Tuesday!
God Bless! -Lauren
#payitforward #fosterkids

The Magnolia Story


Sunday mornings call for a big cup of coffee and an inspirational read! For a while now a few of my close friends and customers have been telling me how much my story reminds them of Joanna’s story from the reality show Fixer Upper. I haven’t found the time to watch her show between the store and our four boys so I bought this book last week while I was traveling to learn more about her. I found out I have so much in common with Joanna and my husband is just like Chip lol!!! There were so many crazy coincidences we share that I kept slapping my husband’s leg telling him you have to read this paragraph because you will not believe this! One of the many crazy coincidences is when she talked about opening her first store. She talked to Chip before she opened and they decided she needed to make $200 a day to be able to stay afloat and on her grand opening day she was so nervous that nobody would show up that she was hyperventilating and then the customers started to pour in! (This is exactly how it went for me right down to the exact daily sales goal and talk with my husband Steve and lots and lots of hyperventilating lol!) Another great part of her book is where she talked about her customers. There were women that stopped by her store and spent a lot of money and there was another customer who never bought a thing. She would show up now and then and poke around and one time she told her “I just come here because I want to be here. This place inspires me.” Joanna said this is one of the greatest compliments she could imagine and that it affirmed that she had accomplished exactly what she had set out to do. This gave me goosebumps as I read this because again this is just like my own story. I remember shortly after we opened telling my husband how fulfilling it was to watch women come in and have fun whether they bought anything or not. I was and still am so humbled and honored that people love to come and visit and sometimes from hours away. I love seeing the customers everyday who stop by to waste time before a doctor’s appointment, or the customers that love to just walk around the store for a pick me up, seeing friends meet up at the store to shop and catch up, or when three generations of women make memories shopping together and watching couples and families shop together and the husbands enjoy sitting in the man cave or the dressing room lounge while their wives shop to their hearts content. Hearing the laughter radiate through what used to be an old abandoned theater makes me feel like I’m doing what I set out to do. I woke up feeling so grateful for every single one of my customers this morning and want to sincerely thank you for being a part of what feels like a dream!

My Biggest Fear


We dropped off and donated a truck full of shoes to Dress for Success in Fargo this afternoon and it brought back a memory that made me smile. I remember how nervous I was when I first opened the store about 3 1/2 years ago. I was insanely scared at the thought of the store not surviving in our little tourist town. My biggest fear: What if things don’t sell? What would I do then? I faced this big fear head on everyday, prayed like crazy, worked my butt off and I persevered. So this big fear I had, things not selling, turned out to be a blessing. The awesome part is when things don’t sell I bring those items to Dress For Success who in turn help women with interview/work outfits to help get them back into the workforce. From time to time Dress For Success posts pics of the women they help and when I see those women wearing the clothes or shoes donated from my store it’s a reward that money could never give me. Knowing that a pair of shoes or an article of clothing from my store helped a woman feel confident for her job interview is not only something that feeds my soul but it reminds me to not let fear stop me. I just wanted to share this in case someone needed to hear it :)

A second chance at life! Never Give Up!


Our general manager, Sheila, came to work not too long ago talking about this local firefighter who has literally been through hell and back and is now speaking and reaching out to others about PTSD and Suicide. As she talked about Scott Geiselhart and his inspirational Facebook posts I had goosebumps and knew right away this was going to be our next Pay it Forward!

We called up Scott and told him we wanted to pay it forward with a new outfit from THE NINES and also share his story on our blog! Scott agreed and stopped by the store last week before we opened so we could spend a little extra time finding him outfits that made him feel good and learning about his story. There were a few times Scott came out of the dressing room a little choked up and teary eyed that we were giving him a free outfit.  He kept saying nobody’s ever done anything like this for me before. As Sheila and I fought back our own tears, we were reminded why we love our rewarding job so much.  Helping someone find an outfit that makes them do a double take in the mirror, though it’s not saving peoples lives, it gives people a big boost and it’s a beautiful thing to be part of.

After we found some great outfits and gave Scott some styling tips I talked with him upstairs to hear more about his story. He told me about his days of being a local Fire Fighter in Frazee and having to respond to horrific accidents involving children and families. The nightmares of these accidents consumed Scott and he blamed himself when victims didn’t survive. He said it was hard to go home to his family and go to bed like nothing happened after seeing people lose their loved ones. The trauma over 15 years had caused PTSD but he didn’t know it. He struggled with the nightmares and became short tempered, angry and eventually turned to drugs to stay awake to escape the nightmares. Then, just a  little over two years ago, in hopes to end his suffering once and for all, he tried to take his own life but the gun didn’t go off.

Scott believes it was divine intervention that the gun didn’t go off and he then began trying to figure out why. Scott learned about PTSD and was able to get help and now he’s on a mission to help others!

Scott says “It can happen to anybody, PTSD, depression, suicide it’s all hand in hand and it’s not being talked about enough.”

Since, Scott has made it a personal mission to save lives. He’s been traveling to fire departments across Minnesota speaking about PTSD and suicide.

“Now I just want to go back and try to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” says Scott.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelife at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 2-1-1 to be connected with Firstlink’s 24-hour helpline. There is also a Firefighter/EMS Assistance Program, call 1-888-731-FIRE (3473).

Scott is also part of a group called Never. Give. Up. It’s a group with a mission to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness education, to suppose those who suffer so they will never give up.


Dreaming Big: The behind the scenes of creating our store

New Nines facade 1 (1)Before

New Nines facade 2After

Watch this behind the scenes video  http://www.easywebvideo.com/61a0d9a1

My Dad made this video (click on the link above to watch) for me for my birthday last week and it brought a tear to my eye so I wanted to share it with all of you :) This video is all about the transformation and behind the scenes of what went into remodeling our current store location before our Re-Grand Opening in November. Deciding after just one year of being in business to move from our 1700 square foot boutique into an 4600 square foot old theater was definitely a risk and I’m not going to lie, I was scared at times during the process especially when we realized the remodeling challenges that lie ahead. This video makes me cry because it reminds me that you need to push forward when you’re scared and not back down even though life would be easier if you didn’t grow and if you truly believe in yourself you keep pushing forward no matter how many people tell you that you might fail. I remember at times thinking ” We are honestly crazy! How are we ever going to pull this off?” but I had incredible faith and an amazing husband with serious carpentry skills lol. I still look at the store and find it hard to believe we did it and every time I hear a customer tell me how much fun they had shopping I cant help but feel humbled and grateful that my once crazy dream is bringing people joy on a daily basis. We initially thought the remodel would take 3-4 months and when we realized the design challenges we were up against it ended up taking us over a year. The biggest remodeling challenges included a floor of all different heights designed originally for a movie theater and a load bearing wall at the entrance that completely shut off the rest of the building that we had to remove. My husband was very patient with me and all of my crazy design ideas especially when I told him I wanted the floors made out of giant recycled electrical spools that he would have to dismantle and then plain by hand in our front yard for 3 months or when I told him I didn’t just want basic sinks in the bathroom, I wanted bathroom sinks made out of vintage Singer Sewing Machines.

It’s hard to believe what can happen in 3 years when you believe!
“Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don’t give up”
Have a beautiful Sunday :) -Lauren

Meet Dan! Our First Male “Hero” Winner!


We asked all of you to nominate your personal Hero back in February for a chance for them to win a free outfit from THE NINES. With all the amazing emails we received from you, we had a very difficult time picking just one winner this year. After reading the email that Dan’s wife Witney sent in, we decided we would pick two Hero winner’s.

Here’s the email that Dan’s wife sent to us:

I will be honest, initially when I saw your Facebook post I was trying to think of a female hero. But, then I got your email today and it just clicked. My husband is my hero.

My husband Dan stays home with his dad, and our two kids, and cares for them, but that is only part of why he is a hero.

As a senior in High School, Dan’s dad suffered from a Brain Aneurysm that left him disabled. Over the course of the next 10 years, Dan’s mom, Judy, took care of his Dad, selflessly. Dan would drive home on the weekends to help his mom with work around the yard and any other things she needed help with. Then in April of 2012, Judy was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer. Dan took time off of work and basically moved back to Elbow Lake to take care of his dad and mom. Dan spent every last moment he could with his mom before she passed in December of that year. Dan’s dad, Dave, moved to the cities with us, but we knew that wasn’t going to be the easiest transition for him, our house was not handicap accessible, and it made it hard for Dave to get around.

As a family, we decided to put our energy into moving our family back to Elbow Lake to Dave’s home. In February 2014 we were able to move back to Elbow Lake. Dan stays home with our two kids, Lila (3) & Grayson (8M), and Dave. But, he does so much more then just care for them, he has provided an unique environment for our kids and his dad. His dad is much more comfortable and happy at home and our kids love having Papa Dave be such a big part of their lives.

Although I know Dan ultimately wants to get back to work, he is exceeding my expectations in this role. He is my hero.

Thank you,

We treated Dan to a new pair of Big Star jeans and a Buffalo Plaid button up that he looked great in! My staff and I had so much fun with Dan, Witney and their two adorable kids! Thanks again to everyone who sent in emails! We do many pay it forward giveaways throughout the year so make sure to watch for our posts so you can nominate or re-nominate someone you think is fabulous!