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Icon of the month: Alison McDaniel

Icon of the month: Alison McDaniel

Dress shop owner enjoys giving to community

By Johnette Cruz

Alison McDaniel is no stranger to making moves not only in personal life but in business as well. A Minnesota native, McDaniel did not relocate to Greenwood until 2006. Within the span of three years she moved to a new state, got married, had her first child, Carly, followed by her son, Max and then opened RaeLynn’s in 2008. (Talk about a go-getter, huh?) Prior to her move to Greenwood, McDaniel worked in a bridal/prom store for six years as the manager. RaeLynn’s was established as a small formal store, opening its doors with just 272 dresses and five fitting rooms. In 2010 they expanded their store to also carry boutique clothing, have an online presence and in-store merchandise. In 2013 their Greenwood store expanded to 18 fitting rooms with more than a thousand formal dresses in stock. During this time, RaeLynn’s grew even more and opened a second location to serve their clientele in Carmel.

McDaniel started RaeLynn’s because dresses was all she knew; either there was no one else doing what she did, or other stores were just concentrating on formal attire. Today RaeLynn’s is known as more than a prom store; the store is now selling formal for all occasions to all ages.

RaeLynn’s will be celebrating 10 years this November and through this time McDaniel and her employees have been involved with the Riley Hospital Prom, Riley Dance Marathon, Lance Stephenson Ultimate Prom Experience and Gifted Gown, along with working alongside social workers and counselors in Indy by gifting gowns to those that would never be able to afford their own. McDaniel truly has a servant’s heart and seeks opportunities to better others by taking part in speaking engagements, college business, entrepreneurship, retail management and fashion classes. McDaniel is very thankful to be a part of a community that encourages others to shop local, believes in community over competition and welcomes those who did not grow up in the Center Grove Area.

What do you consider your greatest virtue?

My family.

What upsets you?

Fake people. Stay true to you; the right people will embrace your mistakes and faults and continue to love you.

What do you like best about Center Grove?

Not growing up in Center Grove, I feel very fortunate that people choose to shop local and shop RaeLynn’s.

What’s your favorite Southside eatery?

Vito Provolone’s – recently just took my staff there to celebrate all their accomplishments.

If you had to live anywhere else in the Metro Indianapolis area, where would it be?

The New Palestine area – it would be a halfway point between my Greenwood and Carmel locations.

If you could begin life over, what would you change?

To stop worrying about what other people thought of me and to stay focused on keeping my circle small and just living my best life.

If money were no issue, how would you spend it?

My family loves to travel, so more traveling and just making memories with my kids.

What makes you happiest?

My family & all my RaeLynn’s girls together – during our crazy prom months – I love all being together loving and laughing – it really is a fun place to be.

Pick three adjectives that best describe you.

Determined, ambitious and passionate.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

My family loves to travel and my kids love the west, so hiking and being outdoors. (Southern Utah has recently become our favorite.)

What do you do with idle time?

I love to read and go for long walks.

What would you change about our culture if you could?

Addiction to social media. I see daily how it truly influences our young youth and there is no good that comes with the struggle of always comparing yourself to others and not feeling worthy.

How do you escape from reality?

When I’m home with my kids and husband I really try to just focus on us and being together.

What do you love most in life?

Everything: I love the opportunities that RaeLynn’s has provided for our community, I love that I get up each morning, truly loving what I do and knowing in my heart that I am helping make a difference in our customers’ lives.

Which living person in Center Grove do you most admire?

Tracy Buck. who is a teacher at Center Grove High School – she has shared several of her students with me; they have gained internship opportunities with RaeLynn’s. Those that have chosen to do this at RaeLynn’s have been some of the most amazing young girls I have met.

What qualities do you admire most in another person?

Honesty and patience.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Surrounding myself with people who are smarter & better than me – that make me think “outside the box”; those that have believed in the vision of RaeLynn’s and have helped me achieve this opportunity. RaeLynn’s would never be what it is without my staff through the years and the loyalty of customers choosing to shop local.

What is your greatest fear?

The everyday struggle of the work/life balance and remembering to take the time to breathe deep and just know that I am doing the best that I can.

What has been the happiest time of your life?

Waking up every day knowing my kids are healthy and happy.

Is there a special talent you really wish you had?

I wish I had more musical talent!

What do you most value in your friends?

They keep it real and hold me accountable.

Which historical figure do you most admire?

Betty White, although she is not dead. Hearing her stories and seeing her laugh; she has truly been living her best life! She has made a difference in so many.

What is your greatest regret?

No regrets in this life; just mistakes made and lessons learned.

What tenet do you live by?

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should and let go of what you can’t change”.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

My staff has a quote board of all the random things I say.


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