MilliOnAir interactive Magazine April 2017 - Page 116

Adventurer Goes From Line Cook To

CEO Of A Multi-Million Dollar Opportunity

Ellen Bennett, founder and designer,

Hedley & Bennett with Oliver, her pet pig

Four years ago, Bennett went from a line cook to the founder and designer of Hedley & Bennett, a custom apron and culinary work wear company based in Los Angeles. Today she has a 14,000-square-foot factory in Los Angeles and employees over 40 people. Her aprons can be found in Whole Foods and in more than 4,000 restaurants worldwide including celebrity chefs Martha Stewart, Mario Batali and Alton Brown. Because aprons aren’t just for the kitchen, she has collaborated with SpaceX, Google, Lexus, Delta, Four Seasons and Food & Wine to craft functional aprons for their needs.

This is more than a business success story. It’s a story about a woman who wants to lift people up. And it all started when she discovered what makes her special. Here’s Bennett’s Mentoring Moment in her words, an excerpt from our podcast (condensed and edited):

Do you ever think, “Holy cow it feels like I’ve lived a thousand different lives!”? I certainly do. Even though I’m just approaching thirty, from all of these lives I’ve learned one essential entrepreneur lesson, and what I’d call my Mentoring Moment, and that’s: The path in front of you is rarely a straight line, it’s full of bumps, twists and turns. Embrace the bumps in the road. They are the road.

My love of food started when I was little. Every summer I traveled from Los Angeles, where I was born, to Tampico, Mexico to visit my grandmother. I’d spend all day in the kitchen with her, eating pastries, tamales or posole. My abuelita was the best cook and a seriously hard working lady.

Fast forward to my teenage years. My parents got divorced and my little sister and I lived with my mom who was a registered nurse and worked 12-hour shifts to support us. She didn’t have time to cook, so I started cooking, recreating recipes my abuelita taught me. It didn’t matter how it turned out, my mom would just eat it politely as she stood at the end of the kitchen counter every night. After a while, I realized I wasn’t cooking because I wanted to help her but because I really loved cooking! I decided that I would go into the culinary world when I grew up. I wasn’t hell-bent on being a chef, but I knew I loved being in the kitchen.

There were two culinary schools I had my heart set on: Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles and the Culinary Institute of America in New York. There was just one problem — my mom couldn’t afford to send me to culinary school. She didn’t tell me I couldn’t do it, but it was the first time ever in my life she hadn’t unwaveringly said, “You CAN do it!” This time was different.

Hedley & Bennett

Sometimes you just know it. You meet someone and you want to catch what they have. That’s how I felt when I met 29-year-old Ellen Bennett, also known as the "Apron Lady." She doesn't see walls so she goes right through them. In her world, the sky's not the limit — she sets the bar.