Viewing entries tagged
hedley & bennett


Building A Brand: Q & A with Hedley & Bennett's Founder


If you're not already familiar with the cheery lady behind Hedley & Bennet aprons, allow me to introduce you to Ellen Marie Bennett!  You've probably seen her aprons worn by chefs & servers at one of your local restaurants, and they are also the official apron of the Charleston Wine & Food Festival!  The 2018 festival is why I had Ellen on my mind lately; she's here in Charleston to moderate my favorite CHSWFF shindig (Pecha Kucha), and is hosting another fun event called Brunch Squad.  

IMG_3290 (1).JPG

Last August I had the chance to visit Ellen's apron factory for her School of Hustle conference.  I learned so much, so I really wanted to have her share some insight for those other hard-working entrepreneurs out there.  I know you'll be as inspired by Ellen as I am!


Liz: A brand is so much more than just a logo, but that really is part of what makes your business so recognizable.  Tell us how the name Hedley & Bennett and the decision to use the ampersand logo came about.

Ellen: Hedley is the last name of my English grandfather and he was a rocket scientist way back then. His name brings in the proper functionality aspect of the brand. We want to design aprons that perform better and last longer than what’s out there. Then there’s the other side… Bennett is me, colorful and vibrant. Design matters. The ampersand stands for the balance of those two things and the dignity that we offer people when they put on our aprons.

Liz: As a fun-having soul with a big personality, can you share your pros (or cons) of being the own face of your brand?  

Ellen: Being the face of your own company is A LOT of work! Between juggling my role as CEO and managing a business, to running around to events and being the face, I’ve learned that it definitely isn't for the faint of heart.  I mean I definitely love both but it’s a daily struggle.  The pros are having creative control and being able to direct where we’re headed--I’m able to guide the growth of the company and how our message is perceived and be the translator of our narrative. In terms of cons, IT’S REALLY HARD! I’m working long hours around the clock--it’s literally like working three full time jobs. It’s exhausting but something I truly enjoy.

Liz: Hedley & Bennett is more than just a product (aprons), so what are some of the best ways you have found to spread your brand message?

Ellen: Collaborations have definitely played a role in spreading our message--they’re really fun and exciting! Being able to collaborate with like-minded brands and sharing our stories along with theirs have helped us reach new markets, and is something we’re continuing to grow this year.

Instagram Stories has also been an amazing channel that’s helped spread our brand message. It’s a lot of fun being able to show people how a company exists and how we operate between my personal Instagram and the Hedley & Bennett account. We collectively get to show our audience the people behind the business; it’s human and relatable and I love that because it’s real. Our entire Instagram in general has gravitated more towards showing that we really care about our community. It’s a place where we can show people who they are and why we do what we do. Our new Test Kitchen is something we’re really excited for, too.  We have this opportunity to collaborate and share our message with our community on another scale by being able to have them come cook with us at Apron HQ --it’s something that makes us truly unique and we’re really excited for it!

IMG_3307 (1).JPG

Liz: One of the things I loved about the School of Hustle was Ellen's advice about putting yourself out there at all times- now at conferences I try not to eat with people I know and I strike up conversations with anyone I can.  What are some ways people can get their brand message out there when they step away from the computer?

Ellen:  You have to put yourself out there! Even if you're uncomfortable, you should do it--don't let being afraid hold you back.  Find what makes your brand special--what makes it real and hone in on that.   Be real, don’t copy others and find what’s original to you. For me, color has always been my art.  Over the years, my color choices and clothes have gotten crazier and crazier, but it’s apart of my identity and the message Hedley & Bennett is getting across. We’re loud and proud and we know it’s important to have fun in what you’re doing and we stay true to that.  At the end of the day, it’s just really important to identify your brand in the most real way possible--be as human as possible, be honest, be unique. It’s so important.


Liz: Your brand story & identity has really made a mark within your industry, and you've successfully grown your company within a relatively small amount of time.  What advice would you give other up and coming brands to be able to scale at a more rapid pace?

Ellen: I think it’s really important that you find your own path, and follow it. No two paths are the same and we can take advice and inspiration from other people’s journeys, but at the end yours is your own and for you to trek. When I first started making aprons, everyone thought it was ridiculous, but I was determined.  Find what makes you want to get up in the morning and make it yours--make it original.  It takes time but you have to try and figure it out. Try everything and if it doesn’t work, you learn from it and learn not to make that mistake again. You can’t wait for the right moment because it may never come. I always say look and then jump because you’ll figure it out on the way. Bring to the table only something you have the ability to do, and believe in it!

image1 (1).jpeg

Doesn't this year's CHSWFF "Street Team" look pretty fantastic in Ellen's aprons?  Follow us behind the scenes of the festival on Instagram here, and learn more about Ellen in my previous post

group photo via Libby Williams Photographs


1 Comment

Woman Crush Wednesday: The Apron Lady

This week I'm woman-crushing on Ellen Marie Bennett, a.k.a. "The Apron Lady", mostly because of her colorful Instagram feed, but also because she's one talented boss lady that is coming to our city for Charleston Wine & Food Festival! It starts today and you don't want to miss it.  Here is a little about Ellen, who I'm hoping to meet during the festival!

Who is The Apron Lady?  I'm Ellen, the Founder and CEO of Hedley & Bennett, the Los Angeles based apron company that I started in 2012 at age 24. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California but I am half Mexican so I spent a lot of time there too. I was definitely far from an ordinary kid and very independent from a young age after my parents got divorced. I became very interested in cooking and testing out new recipes for my single mom and little sister while growing up. This is when I realized my love for the kitchen and cooking. When I was old enough, I packed up and moved to Mexico City for Culinary School to continue my passion for cooking. After living in Mexico for a few years and graduating I moved back to the states and worked as a line cook at two Los Angeles’ restaurants (Baco Mercat and two-Michelin star rated Providence). I noticed the stale look and poor quality of the aprons I wore daily and I was inspired to make a more functional apron, so I worked with my chef, Josef Centeno of Baco Mercat, to design my first run of aprons for his staff.  That was the official start of Hedley & Bennett!

What are Hedley & Bennett aprons, and why is there so much hype about them? Our mission is to design the world’s best workwear & build a community in the kitchen and beyond. Each fabrication detail has been carefully considered to handle the rigorous daily use experienced in a working kitchen. All our products are handmade from start to finish use only top grade materials such as American canvas, raw Japanese selvage denim and European linens. These unique pieces (aprons, chef coats, chef hats, potholders, napkins and more!) are high quality and built to last. Every apron also features adjustable straps, brass hardware, and well-placed pockets reinforced with bar tacks to avoid ripping. The construction of our aprons came from my own experience in the kitchen and from talking to and listening to what people needed and wanted. The Apron Squad literally grew one member at a time. I started running between restaurants and farmers markets with bags of fabric swatches and apron samples, talking to everyone I could get my hands on about this exciting new idea. We are now in over 4000 restaurants and outfit some of the best chefs and institutions in the world like Delta Airlines, SpaceX, Google, Bon Appetit, Whole Foods, Martha Stewart, Mario Batali, David Chang, Alinea Shake Shack, Curtis Stone and shows on Food Network and Top Chef.

When/where: where can people find you at CHSWFF? Well, we are working really closely with CHSWFF this year so you can find our aprons on all the chefs there as well as in their market place! We are also worn in many Charleston restaurants such as Leon's, Hen and the Goat, Fig, Butcher & the Bee, Callie's Biscuits and more.  You can see me speak at Pecha Kucha on Friday night at The Cigar Factory.  You can also find Ellen via her adorable Instagram at @ellenmariebennett or @hedleyandbennett.  Her website is, and you should watch this clip to learn more about her rags to riches story from her Today Show feature.

Why does making aprons continue to inspire you? When I established Hedley & Bennett, it was born to inspire a sense of dignity and pride in the kitchen. I recognized a recurring pattern in drab kitchen workwear: bland, generic, and essentially disposable uniforms that were completely uninspiring.  I had the vision to make people feel as amazing as the food they prepared. Through the community of culinary professionals, our aprons have turned into a nationwide movement and it fuels me to keep going!

As Ellen mentioned, you can see her speak at Pecha Kucha Friday 3/3 during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.  Read my last post to see more CHSWFF I recommend attending that are under $100!

1 Comment