20 Oct 2021 07:00

Why Celebrity Chefs and At-Home Cooks Flock To This Scrappy Apron Business with Ellen Bennett, Founder of Hedley & Bennett

There are some beloved characters in pop culture. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Yoda from Star Wars. 

And then, of course, Dora The Explorer…

Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch. But for Ellen Bennett, the founder of multi-million dollar apron company Hedley and Bennett, that children’s character’s can-do adventurous spirit resonates with and lives within her. And she has tapped into those qualities to approach entrepreneurship in a somewhat unique way. 

I definitely feel like I was a bit of a Dora the Explorer. With enough kind of humble enthusiasm, you open a lot of doors. That's what I did. And it worked. And, you know, I don't always land all of my wild adventures, but in this case, it really was the beginning of a whole new journey. And it's so simple as just showing up sometimes up to the place where you're going to meet the people, or have a chance to talk to somebody who will get you into the next door. And then you keep asking and you keep asking and you're just, you gotta be relentless.

The places Ellen was showing up? They were Michelin star restaurants in Los Angeles and she was going around to the back doors to put her product in front of some of the best chefs in the world. Ellen was not well-known. Her product was an apron — something that every restaurant in town already had in bulk. And she was a one-woman operation trying to leapfrog all of the traditional lanes to go straight to the top and find success. 

She didn’t have Dora’s map or her partners in crime to guide her. She was Ellen the explorer and she was out on her own.

Welcome back to The Journey.

Main Takeaways:

  • Walk Through the Door and Ask: You don’t always need to go through regular channels to get things done. If you have enough confidence and gumption to be aggressive, get in front of the decision-makers, and simply ask for what you want, you just might get it. There is risk and rejection involved in this strategy, but the opportunity is there for the taking if you’re willing to try.
  • Don’t Listen to the Haters: Those who don’t see your vision may try to dissuade you at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Push through, turn those voices off, and do the work that is in your heart. Along the way, you will have to inspire others through your own passion, and you will need to get creative at times to help your vision come to life.
  • Let It Go: Utilize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Learn when you need to turn off the hustle of doing everything yourself and let someone else whose skill set is more suited take over tasks that you are less apt for. Lean into the assets you have that brought the business to life and delegate those smaller, albeit necessary, tasks.


This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.


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