Words by Andra Mayberry
Photography provided by Ali Dee
The spirit of the west is alive and well in Tolar, Texas. While it doesn’t take too long to pass through this tiny town, one thing you’re sure to see is the nondescript store-front that bears the name, “Ali Dee” in the window. Who or what is an Ali Dee you ask? Well, she is the woman behind the name and the embodiment of a true cowgirl with the grit and grace of a country music red carpet.
Along with her fiancé, retired bull rider, Cory Melton, they own and operate a ranch just outside of Tolar where they raise and train bucking bulls. “I joke about being his ranch hand, but really I do have a lot of ranch responsibilities when he is out of town. Bucking bulls are not the easiest to take care of. You have to really pay attention and be careful. They have some interesting personalities,” Ali says. So when you see her getting the inside scoop as the Fox Sports Championship Bull Riding (CBR) chute reporter, you can bet your boots she knows what she’s talking about.
If their season wasn’t already over, you could turn on a Dallas Mavericks NBA game and watch Ali interact with the fans in the stands as the Emmy-winning Mavericks Arena Host, as well as on the Mavs Insider Show on Fox Sports Southwest.
Ali has been in Hood County for about 10 years and and absolutely loves it out here. She says, “I truly feel like it is home, and the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. We have it all – the small town life with some big city conveniences. I also think the Granbury square is the best square in all of Tex-as. I love the history of it.” In fact, you can see the Hood County Square photobombing some of Ali’s impromptu fashion shoots.
When an opportunity arose for her to plant some more roots out here in Hood County, she jumped at it. “I recently invested in buying some property in downtown Tolar and have renovated one building that houses my headquarters for my company, Ali Dee Inc., which specializes in western chic fashion and accessories, and the other property we have just begun renovating. It is the old drugstore,” she says. The collection is a fun and colorful mix of serapes and cactus fashion blended with vintage western and shot of haute couture. There are multiple Willie, Whiskey and Johnny Cash references sprinkled throughout the merchandise along with some Tolar Rattler fan tops.
The fashionista in Ali is just a part of the whole woman. This girl can sing! She’s also a guitar-playing, songwriting bona fide singer who has shared the stage with the likes of Merle Haggard, Clint Black, Randy Travis and struck out on the Red Dirt Circuit with bands like Randy Rogers Band, Casey Donahew Band and the Josh Abbott Band. When asked how she felt about breaking through the music scene as a female artist, she says, “I didn’t really realize at first that it was a male dominated industry, but I think that comes from my back-ground working in sports, also male dominated. I never saw it as a deterrent or a setback, I just tried to focus on being the best I could.”
So how did Ali Dee start becoming a household name? You may remember back a few years ago when a reality show aired on CMT called Texas Women. The show chronicled the lives of five different Texas women who were as Texas as they come. There was no lack of mud, bulls and beauty. Ali says she was grateful for the opportunity and feels it, “fast tracked a lot of my business endeavors from my music career to my Ali Dee fashion line.”
This girl knows the hustle. Whether it’s working on the ranch, stumping for her brand or getting into the creative zen of the songwriting process, she finds her inspiration in everything around her. “I find inspiration in a lot of places; friends, relationships, being outdoors, but I do my best creative thinking out-side on a walk or taking care of ranch chores,” she says. Most creative-types lack the technical numbers facet of runing a business, but not this gal. In fact, her favorite app right now is Google An-alytics. She laughs and says, “So boring but I am really into the numbers side of my businesses right now.”
So what on earth got her on the path that landed her in Hood County, Texas? It could be Mr. Melton or it could be what draws us all out here. Either way, she’s found her home and she certainly knows she belongs. But regarding her fiancé, she tells us, “he is the best at keep-ing me on track, focused, and happy. He is the rock to my roll.”
When she looks back to her formative years, she describes her sense of fashion as “weird.” But, if she could go back in time and tell her younger self one thing, it would be, “your weird fashion sense and never-ending search of the mall to find something ‘different’ will come in handy one day. Also, thank your parents more for supporting your many interests.” And if she ever got the chance to perform on the ultimate country stage at the Grand Ole Opry she says she, “would probably find the biggest, puffiest, party dress I could find. I have had an obsession with puffy party dresses since kindergarten, but now I would add fringe to it of course! And I would be singing my new single Love in the Pen coming out in a few weeks.”
One thing remains true about Ali Dee: the name, the brand, the sound all work together to form an exciting and appealing energy. Watch out Hood County because the world is at her doorstep!