When Lisa Kahley left her job as an account supervisor for global advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather to raise two children at home in Clarendon Hills, she was ready for the challenge.
Keeping agency business appointments was quickly replaced by keeping house, community, and school engagements, along with the myriad of additional commitments that come with caring for a growing family. Kahley also kept up with the sports of tennis and golf she’d loved and competed in since childhood. But finding a stylish wardrobe that could easily move with her throughout this multi-dimensioned new day proved more difficult than anticipated.
Her solution? In January 2019, Kahley launched Game Set, a one-stop online shop for the best designer active wear curated from around the globe.
“When I became a mom, my days felt more physical than they had in the office setting,” says Kahley. “I was no longer sitting behind a desk staring at a screen. I was moving from one activity to the next. I found myself gravitating towards active wear on days and times that I wasn’t even working out. These were the clothes that made me feel good, and could move with my active mom lifestyle.”
But as Kahley started looking to expand her new wardrobe, she wanted something better than what was offered by mainstream active wear retail brands, and she knew that other moms wanted that, too.
“So I began to do research and was blown away by the depth of brands and options that I hadn’t known were available, many designed and produced here in the United States, but also emerging brands and trends from other countries,” she says. “Soon, I was testing brands constantly, ordering one or two pieces, and working out in them to ensure they not only looked good, but were functional for my various workouts.”
Eventually, Kahley’s compiled research resulted in an understanding of the most functional and stylish active wear available for a variety of workouts and sports, but also, for the daily wear she needed.
Building on this, Kahley curated a collection of active wear from 20 different designers, including brands such as Thrive Societe, L’urv, Noli Yoga, Koral, Terez, and Tonic. But she also understood that the ability to customize the shopping experience to ensure the fit and performance were up to par for each activity, was something most women would appreciate.
With all this in mind, Kahley built Game Set on a foundation of service-minded options, allowing customers to shop three different ways.
Online, customers have access to shop Game Set merchandise 24/7. For women interested in an in-person experience, Game Set does pop-up boutiques—bringing a selection of items to fitness studios, community events, and homes in the Chicago area. And for people interested in “try before you buy,” the company designed its “style boxes” service, delivering a box of 7 to 10 items based on guest answers to an online questionnaire.
“I wanted Game Set clients to have the most personalized, easy-to-shop experience possible,” says Kahley. “I had not yet seen a style box or subscription service developed around multi-branded active wear—specifically women’s golf and tennis. So, I set Game Set up to do this.”
Since launching the “style box” shopping option in June, Game Set has seen the number of questionnaires grow each month. “The questionnaire has been a very useful tool in keeping up-to-date on what our clients are looking for,” says Kahley. “It allows us to keep a file on each customer to understand their sizing and preferences and to further customize the shopping experience.”
To ensure that the best-informed choices go into the style boxes, Game Set employs a small team of stylists that have a solid foundation in both fashion and the nuances of active wear.
“For example, understanding which leggings and tanks are best for a reformer Pilates class versus the best set for a spin class,” says Kahley. “The nuances are small, but matter to us when we select them for our client.”
But one of the biggest “asks” that Game Set receives from customers has been for the ability to shop in-person more frequently.
“I’ve always thought it important for online brands to have a physical presence in order to connect further with clients,” says Kahley.
Toward that end, Game Set debuted its tennis collection at the Hinsdale Racquet Club this summer, and as of last month, its active wear collection is also available at Energie Pilates and Spa.
Kahley says in-person pop-ups have also been very popular since the company launch.
“Pop-ups are a great opportunity to curate a selection of items tailored to the venue or event, and to meet Game Set clients, and talk with them in person,” she says. “They also give us the chance to partner as a vendor with many local philanthropic organizations such as the Hinsdale Infant Welfare, Hinsdale Junior Women’s Club, Scoreboard Charities, and Hinsdale Historical Society as a way for us to give back.”
Looking ahead, Game Set will continue to expand active wear selections in its current categories: running, studio workouts, Pilates, yoga, spinning, golf, tennis, and post-workout. But developing a Game Set label is already on Kahley’s “to do” list.
“While I’m not yet ready to launch it, I’m in the early stages of concepting a line of tops,” she confides. “So stay tuned.”
For more information, visit gamestyle.com.