Ellen Bennett was working as a cook at one of LA’s busiest restaurants, tying on a $5 apron before hitting the line. Years later, this self-starting culinary entrepreneur is the founder and CEO of Hedley & Bennett, an apron company/brand beloved by the likes of Martha Stewart and Momofuku’s David Chang. In her charismatic talks, Bennett explains how you can jumpstart your own idea, whatever it may be. “Leap before you look,” she says. “You’ll figure it out on the way down.”
When Ellen Bennett ran the 2012 New York Marathon, she realized something: she and her restaurant coworkers were athletes, and like athletes, they needed a uniform—functional and beautiful. With little more than a unique idea and a personal constitution to “wake up and fight,” Bennett traded dinners for sewing skills to complete her first order. Now, Hedley & Bennett is more than an apron company. By the time she was 30, Bennett had transformed a “better apron idea” into a culinary lifestyle brand, attracting interest from major brands like Samsung, Le Creuset, AMEX, Vans and more.
“Ellen Bennett launched an apron company not knowing how to sew and not knowing how to run a business. Now she has the world, so to speak, by the strings.”— The Los Angeles Times
In her colorful talks (apt if you peruse her apron offerings), Bennett breaks down her own self-starting attitude—“If the front door isn’t open, climb in through the window”—to the truthful insights of what she calls the “non-sexy parts of being an entrepreneur,” a.k.a what you don’t read about in Inc. or Forbes. Bennett, true to her cooking background, is not afraid to get her apron a little dirty, and she’ll enthusiastically show you how what she accomplished isn’t limited to aprons. “You could be making bulletproof vehicles,” she says. Entrepreneurship takes grit, determination, and finding the help you need to bring your project to fruition.