Hedley & Bennett / Studio Tour.
by Lily Glass comment


Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

When I arrived at the Hedley & Bennett apron headquarters my first interaction was with a delightfully jolly pig named Oliver. Apparently finishing his morning stroll, I followed him right into the door where things just kept getting better: a giant yellow slide coming down from a tree house in the middle of the room, a warehouse-length zip line just begging to be used, wonderful music, colorful fabrics and kind faces. Ellen Bennett is the creative genius behind Hedley & Bennett (about to celebrate their fourth anniversary!) and personally greets visitors whenever she can, offering tours and complimentary ice cream. She guided me through the apron design process from their fabric testing facility (there’s actually a job in which you pour wine, ketchup and oils all over fabric to test its durability), to the packaging and shipping department. Each step completely transparent and committed to quality control in such a refreshing way. Enjoy the tour and our interview with boss-lady and creative guru, Ellen Bennett.

Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla with Ellen Bennett and her pet pig. / sfgirlbybay

Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

apron design wall at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

were you working elsewhere before leaving to start your business?
Yes, I was working two jobs as a line cook at the Michelin-star-rated restaurant Providence as well as downtown L.A. restaurant Bäco Mercat. I kept those jobs until about a year into starting Hedley & Bennett. I then quit one, but still hung onto the other as long as I could until I literally had no time anymore. So after two years into starting my business, I went into doing it full time.

ellen bennett pictured at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

logo being placed on apron at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

Ellen Bennett at Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

was your new path motivated by a particular creative need or personal goal?
Yes for sure. I did it because when you are working a minimum wage job and working your ass off you want to look and feel good doing your job! And that’s what I sought out to do for myself and others in the kitchen. I think that clothing is a way to really create moral in people and because cooking in a professional kitchen is like a sport, I decided to create a uniform where chef’s look and feel good no matter what fires are going on around them, sometimes literally!

did you receive any particular advice that stood out when starting your own business?
When starting my business I didn’t really get much advice from others. For myself I realized that I needed to really find out if the product I was going to be creating was something that people needed and wanted. Without that your business isn’t ever going to go anywhere. You need to find that “white space” that hasn’t been filled and fill it in your own authentic and original manner. Don’t try to be like anyone else, find your voice, use your voice and cultivate it or you will chasing someone else’s voice and dreams instead of your own

Hedley & Bennett aprons. / sfgirlbybay

colorful decor inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

where do you gain fuel that inspires your creative endeavors?
Cooking for sure! But also just moving, like just running around and traveling and getting my hands in things. The way I look at it the more I can be exposed to a Rolodex of thoughts and experiences the more inspired I am and creative I feel.

table linens and ceramics on display at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

ombre streamers inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

indoor playground with slide at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

what kind of vibe did you have in mind while designing your studio space?
Willy Wonka meets Julia Child. I love that it feels like what a little kid would do for themselves if they had their own business. Its really playful, happy, fun and best of all, super colorful yet we have the seriousness of a 14,000 square foot factory to level out the little kid vibes.

what was the most unexpected aspect of putting your business together?
The challenges I ran across were all the things that would be considered the “behind the scenes” that you have to take care of with a business. How to hire people, taxes, financials, permits, etc. I had no idea that there were so many bricks to building the foundation of a company. But once you get that rolling it’s layer by layer, chunk by chunk and it’s far from impossible but is definitely a challenge. No matter how creative you are you have to understand all these things in order to have a successful company.

inspiring decor inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

photos and cactus displayed on bench in Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

apron designing at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

Ellen Bennett at her Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

colorful furnishings inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

what do you reach for when you need some good ol’ fashioned comfort food?
Good ol’ home made chicken soup for sure! I reach for my bathtub which is super deep and comfy and has one of those caddies that I can have my chicken soup from along with fresh watermelon and oranges with sprinkles of that tajin on it which brings be back to my Mexican roots!

what are some of your work tools that you can’t live without?
Boomerang which is an incredible app that literally boomerangs emails back to you when you haven’t heard from someone or when you want to remember something. It’s literally life changing. Also Google calendar — I couldn’t live without it and I have all my employees’ calendars synced so we are all in coordination. Oh, and Google Drive! The Pantone book is something I for sure can’t live without because in the design process that is one of your most important tools.

Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

quotes on wall at Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

stain testing aprons at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

what are the top three things someone should consider before changing careers or starting their own business?
I’m a firm believer on trying something and really diving in to make sure it’s something you really love. I worked at a restaurant because I wanted to open a restaurant. If I had just tried to open a restaurant I would have had no idea what I was doing. Try to work with someone who has the knowledge that you want and who can relay that knowledge to you so you can learn from them. It took me over a year and a half to figure out that I actually didn’t want to open a restaurant. Give yourself enough time to really get in the weeds of something and truly decide if you like something or don’t like something before you do it.

Being sure that what you are venturing into business-wise is really what you want to do before quitting your day job. Figure out if people really need and want it. Once you recognize the white space, start grass roots market research. Find your audience and see what they like, how much will they pay for it, what it is they want and will use, etc. It’s really easy to do market research on these things.

Don’t be afraid to be scrappy and use the resources you have to get help. Think up useful and creative ways to help people and exchange with them for advice or to do things that you may need help with. When I first started I was cooking dinner for people at their house just to get advice and knowledge on how to make a pattern or source fabric! I literally had no idea how to do any of it. But I learned from the knowledge people gave me because I did anything I knew how to, in exchange with them for that help/advice.

Hedley & Bennett studio tour dtla. / sfgirlbybay

Ellen Bennett at her desk inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

what are three books that changed your life?
1. Delivering Happeniness by Tony Shea — such incredible basics on customer service in that book!
2. The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer — changed my life because it was my grandmother’s favorite cookbook and it has all the basics of life when it comes to cooking. It’s basically google for recipes back in the day. It’s a timeless gem and made me truly love cooking.
3. The Boxcar Children – one of my favorite favorite series of books which I absolutely loved growing up and had such an impact on how my life is now. The adventures they went on made me really believe that you can make something out of nothing. Growing up I read every single one of them from front to back and they made me become a dreamer and adventurer and to do the things and learn new things and make shit happen! That’s totally where I get my scrappiness from.

what do you currently have playing on the studio’s turntable?
A whole lot of Beyonce. A little bit of Bon Iver and even some Drake. Whatever makes the mood for the day.

ellen bennett and her pet pig at Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

fresh fruit in ceramic bowls inside Hedley & Bennett studio dtla. / sfgirlbybay

ellen bennett of Hedley & Bennett in her studio kitchen. / sfgirlbybay

colorful Hedley & Bennett aprons. / sfgirlbybay

Feel free to stop by the apron factory for a little fun and a scoop of McConnell’s ice cream!
• photography by lily glass for sfgirlbybay.

One response to “Hedley & Bennett / Studio Tour.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.