It was a gray and dreary Saturday morning when I made my way to Downtown Los Angeles. It didn’t take too long to get their from Mid-City, but when the weather wants you to stay inside, everything takes an extra 15 mental minutes.
But heading to DTLA was well worth it. I had been invited by Ellen, owner of Hedley & Bennett the week prior at Northern grade to come check out the offices and sample sale.
Upon arrival, I was the only one in the room towering ten floors above LA, aside from her crew. People trickled in as I walked around taking pictures. Being greeted with a mimosa was a nice touch, as was the ability to see this bustling operation. Though I only stayed for an hour or so, I found enough time to get a photo with Ellen, watch the crew try to position the office dog for a picture, almost help hang a curtain, and learn a lot more than I thought I would about a company that has the strength and originality to be huge.
This is the story of Hedley & Bennett as told by founder and all-around motivated and smart person, Ellen Bennett.
Name: Ellen Bennett
Your Company: Hedley & Bennett
Where you livin: Highland Park/Downtown
Some background on the inspiration:
What inspired me to start making aprons was the terrible uniforms and aprons I was made to wear in the professional kitchen. The nicer uniforms were usually just for the chef so I thought why not make something awesome and practical that anyone, chef or line cook alike can wear and enjoy and use in a professional kitchen, not just beautiful and untouchable. My whole line is quite touchable in fact and can be put through the ringer just like the line cooks that wear them.
I was inspired by all the chefs I’ve worked with. How creative and hardworking they are yet they had to wear these plain aprons and uniforms that couldn’t reflect their personal style or individuality.Our newest spring line is very Southern Bell. Colorful, light, simple. We wanted to do something sweet and fun, lots of flower prints and beautiful pastel linens for the southern ladies in all of us.
What sets Hedley & Bennett apart:
Our fabrics are really unique. We use japanese and american selvage denim, italian chambray, linen, and selvage canvas. I hand choose every fabric and design it based specifically on what chefs and cooks in a kitchen actually need as opposed to some distant idea from someone who has no clue what the hell is actually useful in a kitchen. When I first started this I would wear my prototypes in the restaurant I worked at just to try out if they were really up to snuff or not. Also, everything is made in house here in Los Angeles so I am there making sure all of our production is right and meanwhile guiding the whole process. I run my company almost like a kitchen, nothing leaves until I see it and approve the product.
After meeting and talking aprons with Alton Brown at my office for the first time, he emailed me afterwards and said, “I’m sure you get this all the time but… you’re awesome.”
That was quite a statement coming from him because we think he is SO awesome.
The Elevator Pitch:
Beautiful, badass custom aprons made by a chef for a chef.
Unique to local shoppers in LA:
I still work at providence two days a week just for the love I have to cooking and because that is where this whole concept evolved. Because of that I think our company has a big advantage as we don’t lose sight of why we started this in the first place!
Another cool thing is we are super accessible. You can always come into our office in DTLA. If you’re not welcomed by a pug at the door, it’ll be of me running by with a bag of aprons or our production manager bringing in rolls of fabric. We are real people hustling in the world and doing our part to make the kitchen a bit more fashionable but still mega practical.
We aren’t this big corporate company, we are a bunch of girls and cooks and we so thoroughly enjoy doing our job, we will get you really excited about wearing aprons, I swear.
The best way for our shoppers to use /consume/experience H&B:
Our aprons are in lots of restaurants in LA and other cities so to see em in action, they can always peek into Baco Mercat or Son of a Gun, Terroni, or Pedaler’s Fork and catch a glimpse of the aprons being put to work. Or just get one and wear it, then you’ll understand why these aprons are bad ass.
While Hedley & Bennet’s aprons worn already by plenty of people here in LA and elsewhere, I have to admit, my favorite spotting has been the fine purveyors of the roasted beans at Paper or Plastik in Mid-City. Best coffee shop in LA, IMHO.
Find Hedley & Bennet Here: