Interning for Calvin Klein and Chanel in New York while studying at Northwestern University in Chicago, Denise Lee took to the fashion industry like a duck to water. Upon graduation, she joined Armani Exchange in the Big Apple before working in business development at Burch Creative Capital (run by billionaire entrepreneur Chris Burch, Tory Burch’s ex-husband who helped kick-start her brand).
Having always kept an active lifestyle, she noted the lack of stylish yet functional sportswear in the market while training for her first triathlon in 2012. In 2013, she launched women’s activewear brand Alala. “I remember being so excited to get our first order from a retailer — Equinox, a national luxury gym chain. Seeing celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts wearing our clothes is always exciting too,” says Lee, who reveals that despite the high costs, many of Alala’s products are still produced in New York’s Garment District to ensure quality. Even when she needs to take a break, this sporty entrepreneur says that “there’s nothing like a great spin class with amazing music to take my mind off work for an hour.”