The CEO and founder of local activewear line DYI teaches us a lesson in balance.
Even if you’ve never heard of DYI (shopdyi.com), you’ve probably worn its pieces. The Houston-grown active- and athleisurewear brand has wholesale relationships with some of the biggest names in fitness—Pure Barre, Barre3, Barre Method, Peloton and SoulCycle, to name a few. And each of its moisture-wicking tights, bras and tanks is sewn, screenprinted, packaged and more, right here in the Houston Heights. The founder and woman behind the company is Houston native Leslie Denby. For Denby, fashion and fitness called to her from a young age. “Growing up I was an athlete,” she says. “And I was always cutting up T-shirts and dyeing them.” She studied fashion merchandising at Texas Christian University before moving to New York City to earn her sartorial chops on the public relations team at Chanel. Life brought her back to Houston in 2009, at which time her brother, Henry Richardson, founder and CEO of Define Mind & Body wellness studios, was starting his business. She became a resident fitness instructor and Define’s retail buyer, which ultimately resulted in the brand’s own line of activewear. “That’s when my fashion background and fitness kind of merged,” she says. Naturally, the sibling duo separated their concept into two entities, the fitness studios and the clothing line, Define Your Inspiration, or DYI. Though she started production in Los Angeles, Denby quickly settled her operations into a space in Spring Street Studios. Today, she and her growing team work from a warehouse in the Heights and have plans to open a storefront at nearby MKT Heights this fall. “Retail is definitely changing,” she acknowledges. “Our store is going to be a hybrid experience, with behind-the-scenes of our design side—how we choose color, how we do this and that.” When she’s not running a company, the mother of three is mastering the art that is being a working mother. To keep balance, she practices yoga twice a week, she meditates, and she’s loyal to a life coach (a “game changer” for her, she says). “It’s definitely a juggle,” she admits. “It comes with a bit of mom guilt here and there, but I feel like they’re also learning women can work and do a lot of things. It’s a good learning experience for them.” Here, Denby gives us a glimpse at 24 hours in her life.
“In the morning I am starting my daily ritual, so I am waking up a little bit before my kids. I just need 10 minutes. I meditate for five minutes and write in a journal for five.”
“We have a small team but a lot going on, so the day is pretty crazy. We’re normally ordering in and then eat together. We’re basically working throughout lunch. One of my favorite places is Nourish. It has great salads and smoothies. I hit it up all the time.”
“Savoir in the Heights is a place we love to go for happy hour. Sitting up at its great bar and having a glass of Champagne is super fun.”
KEEP IT CLASSIC
“We try to eat dinner all together as a family and talk about our days. Thursdays and Fridays are our go-out-to-dinner nights, and we try to go somewhere that’s fun for the kids. The original Carrabba’s on Voss is still one of the best Italian meals in Houston, I think.”
RELAX & RECHARGE
“If I get some time after the kids go down, I love to take a bath and relax. It’s go, go, go all day long, so I like taking a bath, getting into my robe and putting some rose oil on my face.”
Photography by: clocks photo by Audrey Shtecinjo/Stocksy; Leslie Denby portrait by Candace Moore; yoga photo by Cecilie Arcurs; bath photo by Mutzii; lasagna photo courtesy of Carrabba’s Italian Grill; green smoothie photo by Alina Karpenko; cocktail photo by Swiggard Creative