Name: Denise Lee
Instagram: @denisexlee (on TikTok as well!)
Where are you from and/or what made you move to NYC?
I grew up in Singapore. I moved to NYC to initially to pursue a career in fashion. I stayed because of all the amazing entrepreneurial opportunities here and because I love the energy of this special city.
What industry are you in and what do you do?
I am the founder and CEO of Alala, a luxury athleisure brand for powerful women. Our mission is to empower women through our work and platform. We are a self-funded, 100% female run company, which is a source of pride for me.
Have you seen being a female founder change at all over time?
Easier now than at the beginning? It defintiely has changed in the 8 years I’ve had Alala. The idea of the perfect “girlboss” was so prevalent when I started and I never felt that I fit into that mold. These days, I see much more diversity and vulnerability in female founders and I love that so much. In a world where we are starving for true connection, I believe that showing off your imperfections can be just as compelling as showing off your accomplishments.
As a woman, what was the biggest challenge you endured during the beginning of your career?
There was a lot of impostor syndrome at the beginning of starting Alala – feeling like “why would I be the one to be successful at this”? I didn’t have a lot of female role models or mentors, so it was quite a lonely journey in a way, and I didn’t have many women I felt I could relate to. Over the years, I’ve built up a community of other female entrepreneurs to share stories with, which I am truly grateful for.
What would you like to see change for women across the world?
Equal pay for equal work to start. I sit on the board of an organization called Take the Lead, and its mission is to achieve gender parity in the workplace by 2025 through educating women on how to speak up for themselves and break through challenges along the way.
Tell us about your journey with Alala?
Alala has been my baby for the last 8 years. Since we are self-funded, we have been growing organically year over year. Even though we might not have the biggest budgets to spend on splashy advertisements or the most popular influencers, I pride myself on the quality of the product and being able to build a community of women who care about who they purchase from and about what we stand for. It is critical for us to have that word-of-mouth marketing, so even if you do not purchase from us, please tell a friend about this amazing brand or leave us a comment of encouragement – I see it all, and I am grateful for every single connection we make.
What excites you most about your day-to-day in your job at Alala?
The opportunity to touch more women with our products and our message. There is so much negativity and fear in the world, and I want Alala to be a brand that makes you feel like a goddess whenever you interact with us.
What are you most passionate about outside of work?
Two things: Personal development and helping other female entrepreneurs. I am on a journey to understand myself and become the best, fully realized, version of myself. I take a lot of courses and work with a coach on my mindset, my relationship to money, my outlook on life. I also feel a calling to help other female entrepreneurs, through coaching, consulting, investing, and sharing my knowledge and my experience. As I mentioned before, my journey was quite a lonely one especially when I started, but now there are so many wonderful tools we must connect and share, and I want to be able to help others in ways that I had to figure out all by myself.
Favorite place you have been in the world?
Tanzania – I love animals so to see them up close was incredible. I even got to ride a horse through the Serengeti plains to get closer to the wild animals, which was an exhilarating adventure.
Where will you get on a plane to next?
I would love to go to Egypt! But Sedona is probably a more reasonable choice for my next trip.
Anything last min you want to share with our guests as an ARLOcal??
Stop by our Bleecker Street store! We are a quick walk from Arlo Soho and there’s lots of beautiful fun stores on Bleecker St to check out!