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Life and Work with Ellen Marie Bennett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellen Marie Bennett.

Ellen en so far.
Six years ago, while working as a line cook at a 2-Michelin starred restaurant, I noticed the stale look and poor quality of the aprons I wore daily. Despite the fact I had zero design experience, I wanted to change and upgrade the kitchen uniform — to give people dignity and pride when they cooked. I wanted people in the kitchen to feel important and as excited by what they were wearing as the food they were serving.
Fast forward to today, what started as an apron company has morphed into a culinary lifestyle brand. Our product line has greatly expanded as we’ve engaged in smart collaborations with other likeminded brands — from Richer Poorer to Rifle Paper Co. to an upcoming collaboration with Vans. We are much more than aprons and chef coats; we are a community.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a totally wild and challenging road. Anything that is innovative or different is always going to be a challenge. Starting a business is a constant test of how much dedication you have, how much hustle and grit. All of these things are essential for running an effective company. When I first started, I thought I could do everything. I quickly realized I needed to have a kickass army around me that I trusted and who also trusted me. You also can’t be complacent in business. You need to always ask yourself, what else can I master? How else can I bring value?

One struggle early on was that I hired a lot of people who operated like firefighters, they could take on so many different roles and be amazing and willing. Going from firefighters to specialists was a big challenge for me. Realizing that, I didn’t need my best sales person to also do marketing, and so on. As my business went from 10 people to 20 and then 20 to 40, making these decisions only got more difficult, as I also had to continue making my employees feel secure while maintaining the H&B culture as we evolved.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Hedley & Bennett – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Hedley & Bennett started as a product brand, specifically outfitting the restaurant industry in aprons and chef coats. We then started selling to Williams Sonoma, Whole Foods, and Sur La Table. Everyone loved the color of our product, its aesthetic and our can do, cheerful approach. As we grew, we started doing amazing collaborations with brands like Richer Poorer, The Hundreds and Rifle Paper Co. We outfit extremely important and influential chefs, makers and restaurateurs — such as Daniela Soto-Innes, Scott Conant, Nancy Silverton, and Jon Shook + Vinny Dotolo.

Our 14,000 square foot, Downtown Los Angeles HQ is where all the magic happens. It’s a showroom, office space and factory rolled into one — its half community space and half manufacturing. In the H&B factory, we celebrate all of our partners and our community — we have La Colombe, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Don Julio and Health-Aid Kombucha. We also recently teamed up with Samsung to build this incredible kitchen studio, which will further bring the H&B community together in a bigger and more evolved way — its official launch is September 12, 2018.

I’m most proud of the fact that we are an authentic brand, and that we’re embraced for being ourselves. I’m also really proud that we manufacture in L.A., which is no easy feat, and that I can provide a 401k plan and health insurance for my employees.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
My advice to young women starting their journey would be to get the first-hand experience at a startup before diving in on your own. People go into business thinking that it looks sexy and fun, but the reality of running a business is tough — you have to learn everything from the financials to the marketing. It’s all very overwhelming if you don’t have the gut, the heart, and the passion. Intern, apprentice, be someone’s assistant before going off on your own. You might realize that you are an entrepreneur who’s style is better suited for a corporate structure, or maybe you’ll realize, yes, I’ve got what it takes to start my own thing, let’s make it happen.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 3864 SOUTH SANTA FE AVE
    VERNON, CA 90058
  • Website: www.hedleyandbennett.com
  • Phone: 213.744.1355
  • Instagram: hedleyandbennett


Image Credit:

Mary Costa

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