Denny Lee

The culture of all things good with a serial entrepreneur and his Spinone Italiano

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style team


The thing about interesting people is that, (aside from having great dogs), they know other interesting people. As such, we got hooked up with Denny Lee through our pals at 18 Waits. Because he has a standout dog and his style is right up our alley, we were told we had to meet him. So we hit up Denny’s barn/loft home (we’ll let him explain more below) and basically fell in love with everything about it. Think old-timey wooden space meets modern design. And Bené, his Spinone Italiano, has the same feel – he’s a super old breed that looks right at home in the modern time he’s in and the space Denny’s created for him to lounge in. And lounge he does, being one of the most chill dogs we’ve come across.

Denny himself is pretty much a dynamo. He’s worked for brands doing things any culture lover would admire, and he continues to push the envelope with the many projects he has on the go. Needless to say, we were glad to meet a true entrepreneur and will be keeping a close eye on what Denny gets up to in the future!

Read on as Denny elaborates below:

Tell us about yourself:

IMG_6575I get asked what I do all the time, and it’s never easy to sum up, because I don’t focus on one facet of work. Yet, if I were to think about all the maniacal projects I’ve had the pleasure to venture into, I’d say that first and foremost, I’m a serial entrepreneur and brand strategist.

I typically get up around 5am, not because I have someone to answer to, but more so because I have no one to answer to. The uncertainty of future outcomes is always existent with what I do, so I like taking things on and getting to a goal. It’s all about the ups and downs and getting better at what you do, being resilient, and intersecting with those with a similar outlook.

Currently, I’m getting closer to launching a Global Real Estate Financing Platform, which has been a big challenge and one that veers away from what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. I tend to look towards starting new companies and working in current culture, including strategy, consulting, and developing creative/business initiatives primarily in the fields of fashion, music and art. But I’ll stake myself wherever I see an opportunity and a solid vision behind it.

What’s your ideal weekend?

Getting out of the city to the country/wilderness with Bené and some friends or family. Sometimes this means taking a random trip, or doing things that I don’t make the time to do in the city.

Tell us about your pet:IMG_6443

Breed: Spinone Italiano. Name: Bené (sometimes “Bené Le Grand” or just “Hey!”).

I’ve wanted one since ‘98 when I was out West and saw one cruising in the backcountry, and thought it looked awesome. When I looked into the breed, I discovered that they had the qualities that I liked and I knew it was the right one for me. Spinones are an ancient breed, so their hunting and abilities in the wild are strong and instinctual. Personally, I like that they have strong genes, as well as the fact that they’re super intelligent, have an excellent disposition, are sociable, docile and clowny…which can cross into mischievousness (which most of the time I don’t mind). Bené’s breed is also very resilient to different conditions, meaning I can take him anywhere with me, from NYC to the backcountry. I like seeing him thrive in the field where his animal instincts come alive.

How would you describe your personal style?

Slight, on French-Rock-Chic, and the timeless basics, sometimes leaning on looking louche, but generally situation proper.

How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

I move round a lot, splitting my time between Toronto and NYC. But currently I live in an inner city barn in Toronto that’s been converted into a loft. I like the contrast of the building with the furniture that’s in it, such as some mid-century modern and contemporary pieces. Everything needs to have its own space, but it needs to be livable in the sense that it’s not stark — which I feel is not fully there yet with this place. For now it’s a pretty good fort and does the trick of removing me from what’s going on outside. Inevitably I’ll move again, so the next place will be another change again based on where and what it is.

What inspires you?

Lots of things inspire me. But I live by the idea that you should live passionately, and do anything and everything you want with the mindset of “who’s going to stop me”. It’s about a creating a journey and pressing through the pitfalls and rewards that comes with it. It’s probably best summed up by Winston Churchill “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”

Share an anecdote about your relationship with your pet:

He’s got different grunts and nudges depending on what he wants. Like two low grunts means he wants something that he can’t have i.e. to come up on the furniture. Two grunts and a nose check means he wants to get you up and he’ll push the back or sides of my legs to guide me to what he wants, such as a treat in my jacket pocket that he’s somehow sniffed out. The long grunt is when he can’t reach something, and when he’s hungry, he’ll tap my foot. All of this makes me think he’s one step away from speaking to me and/or that he’s smarter than I am. It’s probably both–so I think it’s safe to say that we’re pals.

Keep up with Denny Lee on Instagram!