Talk Shop with Ellen Bennett of Hedley and Bennett

By Katelan Cunningham · September 5, 2016

Our neighbors happen to make the best aprons in the world. Hedley and Bennett is run by Ellen Bennett. She went from line cook to founder, building her brand into the standard for chefs, bartenders, baristas, artists, and artisans around the world in only four years! We can't wait to hear her advice and her story at this month's Talk Shop.

Hedley & Bennett HQ is like a manufacturing playground — with an actual slide. But getting to that point took a lot of hard work and innovation, and now you can see Hedley & Bennett aprons in the best restaurants around the world. Next Thursday, September 15, come to Lumi HQ and hear about the design, business, and manufacturing behind the world's best aprons, right from the lead Apron Lady herself, Ellen Bennet. Read more from Ellen below and RSVP here.

 Talk Shop with Ellen Bennett of Hedley and Bennett
 Talk Shop with Ellen Bennett of Hedley and Bennett

Who is the "Hedley" in Hedley and Bennett? 

He was my English grandfather. Our aprons are very timeless and they have this elegance to them. And then "Bennett" is myself. A little bit crazier and wild, so the style of the company and the brand is elegant, dignified, timeless, but also sort of crazy — all jammed together. So, Hedley & Bennett. 

What was your career path before aprons came into the picture?

I wanted to be a chef and have a taco empire, so it was very different from what I ended up doing. I was on my way to doing that, so I had jobs at really amazing restaurants, and I was learning a lot about restaurant land so I could go have my own. And in that moment, while I was doing that for almost two years, was when I realized that I felt super shitty in the restaurant, in the kitchen environment with the uniforms that we had and I wanted to change that. It was this little side hustle that I had, that became what it is. 

 Talk Shop with Ellen Bennett of Hedley and Bennett
 Talk Shop with Ellen Bennett of Hedley and Bennett

“To be able to have that ownership is part of the deal of being a leader, and you can't have one without the other.”

What are the tenants of a great apron?

Durability. They need to be able to take a serious beating. The fabric should be on point, so we use really amazing fabrics, and we source them from all over the world. It should be adjustable. The neck strap should be adjustable. Pockets should be reinforced. The cut should be good. It should fit men and women alike. We have a ton of varieties of different body styles, so all those different things together accumulate to lots of little tiny details that make a very good garment.

Can you describe the most custom apron you’ve ever made? 

One of the craziest ones we've ever done is SpaceX. It splits into four. It's a bistro, a full, it flips, it's reversible — so it's four aprons in one. That one's definitely the most intense apron we've ever done. They cook like 3,000 meals a day. 

What was the hardest entrepreneurial lesson you had to learn as the owner of Hedley and Bennett?

You're fully responsible for it — shit goes south and you are the owner. It's not just the glamour and glitz of Instagram that makes everything look really great. Like, if an order goes south and you have to pay $4,000 to redo it for a client, that money comes out of your account. Nobody else's. To be able to have that ownership is part of the deal of being a leader and you can't have one without the other. And I think that some people shouldn't run their own business if they don't have that perspective. So that was a huge lesson from the get go. 

It's just having almost an excess amount of responsibility and a willingness to fix stuff, even if it wasn't particularly your error. And that's been a hard lesson, but it's definitely a reality of running your own business. 

Photos via Entrepreneur, Cool Hunting, The Mia Project, and Zooey Magazine

Come talk to Ellen about what it takes to build a big business of bad ass aprons. RSVP here.

When: Thursday, September 15. Talk is at 7 p.m. Feel free to come early and check out our HQ!

Where: 3828 S Santa Fe Ave, Vernon, CA 90058

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