We all see aprons in various big box stores while buying kitchen gadgets. While those quaint aprons are nice, there are some aprons that are just too good for mass distribution.
One such cream-of-the-crop apron brand is Hedley & Bennett. Ellen Bennett, the top-of-the-line apron brand creator, started her career as a line cook. While serving up amazing dishes, Bennett was massively bummed by the terrible apron quality she typically wore. So, the budding entrepreneur decided to do something about it.
Organic Authority recently got to interview Bennett. We asked her about how she founded the brand and what went into designing her aprons.
Organic Authority: When you decided to start designing aprons, how did you begin? Did you know what to do from the get go, or did you have to do a lot of research?
Ellen Bennett: I was a line cook at Providence and was tired of the miserable apron that I had to put on every day. I had never done anything in fashion before, but I definitely know how to hustle and I ran around until I figured out how to do it and made something that I knew was good.
OA: As a cook, you know what works -- how did you use your knowledge to make your aprons stand out structurally and visually?
EB: As a cook, I knew what it's like to stand on your feet for 16 hours in a hot kitchen with a bad apron on. I knew how the straps wore on the back of my neck and how the heavier fabrics made it feel even hotter than it actually was. I used all that and the input of some amazing chefs who told me what they wanted in an apron. When you work hard enough and actually take the time to listen to what people want, you get a really great product.
OA: What was your original design and how has it changed over the years?
EB: My first apron was a yellow linen apron with wobbly straps that a friend helped me sew. But it was like the bare bones belief that I had in an apron and it was a damn good start. Since then, we've listened to our clients and done our own testing and added features like iPhone pockets, reinforced pockets, and lots of other cool features.
OA: Tell us about the handmade process; how did you perfect what you do?
EB: I just worked and worked and worked. And I have a great team that care about our clients and making sure that they get the best product possible. We aren't willing to put out anything but our best.
OA: How did you decide what materials to use and what makes those the best for chefs?
EB: I'm really picky about where we source our fabrics. They have to be comfortable but sturdy and they have to be beautiful as well. We test and test again all the fabrics that we end up using to make aprons to make sure they'll hold up to anything a professional kitchen can throw at them.
OA: How do you create new designs and patterns, and which are your favorites?
EB: Ever since I was little, I have loved colors. I think it's from growing up visiting my Grandmother in Mexico where the colors are bright and bold. You'll find a lot of those colors in the aprons that I create.
OA: I see you sell much more than aprons; how did you go about expanding your offerings?
EB: Aprons aren't the only thing that kitchens need to have well-made. As we're growing bigger and bigger as a company, we have the resources to put attention on even more products.
OA: Who are some of the chefs you outfit?
EB: Paul Kahan of Publican Quality Meats, Nancy Silverton at Mozza, David Chang from Momofuku, April Bloomfield, and Mario Batali.
OA: Do you have any apron buying or kitchenware advice for the common cook?
EB: These aprons are really customized and they're made to be used well. Find the one that works the best for you, sturdier fabric or light weight fabric, iPhone pocket or pen pocket, bucket pockets, and even double sided. Find your apron and wear it loud and proud.
OA: What's your favorite thing to make while wearing your apron?
EB: I love to roast vegetables; drizzle olive oil on it with boat loads of garlic until it's charred but not black, and then I like the throw that in salads. Any crunchy vegetable that exists, particularly kale and purple cabbage, and nuts. I love to have salads that are crunchy and sweet and sour but not like a Chinese salad. More like a fresh salad with honey and garlic and lemon. That's delicious.
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Images via Hedley & Bennett