Ellen Bennett—founder of Hedley & Bennett —loves the feeling of being airborne: she flies around the world making appearances and attending food events, and is often photographed jumping with exuberance. Now, at her brand new headquarters, Bennett flies from her second-story office down into the first-floor retail shop on a zipline. Hedley & Bennett aprons, chef coats and accessories are all made in Los Angeles, and the new HQ (located in Vernon, just south of the downtown Arts District) means that all 20 sewing staff now work in the same building as the rest of the team.
The Hedley & Bennett team has written a mission statement for their Apron Squad, which Bennett has painted on the wall of their new HQ, along with quotes by Julia Child, Walt Disney and Willy Wonka. Outside the new entrance, Bennett’s own quote reads: “If the front door is closed, climb in through the window” with an arrow to show how to do so. Inside, the new factory has room for their 40-person staff and extra space to grow—not to mention a slide, swing, lounge, kitchen and store selling Hedley & Bennett products.
Three years ago Bennett was cooking at the legendary fine dining Los Angeles restaurant Providence. While she found the work exhilarating, Bennett hated her apron—so she sent out to improve it. Thus, Hedley & Bennett was born.
For the first year and a half, Bennett continued to work in the Providence kitchen until the responsibilities of running her company became too time-consuming. Now that the new headquarters are up and running Bennett carves out time to cook in another favorite LA kitchen, Bestia, just two miles north of the new factory.
The opening of the headquarters truly signals a new era for Hedley & Bennett. “Every year on our anniversary we are busting at the seams and have to move to the next office,” Bennett tells CH. “We had changed three times and still did not fit. As you structure yourself more as an office you need for entities and offices. I felt we needed to do something big, something epic… I wanted to pioneer a new frontier.”
Bennett made sure the massive space had a fresh coat of white paint from floor to ceiling before they opened their doors, and the space is full of colorful furniture, tassels and piñatas. Her goal for the next three years is keep thinking big, “I want to make more things that would bridge to the culinary world and the home kitchen. And have a store. Maybe several. I have always had really pie-in-the-sky dreams,” she says. “Always.”
“People don’t realize how hard it is to be living your dream,” Bennett says. “You have to muster up the courage to keep going because you are in charge. You are driving the ship. You can’t just be a little baby and complain. I definitely complain sometimes, [but] then I zipline out of my office and go down the slide, and go cook at Bestia and it’s OK… I like to stay on my toes.” The lively pace of the delightful new headquarters—coupled with Bennett’s enthusiasm—means a sense of adventure and wonder permeates the space.
Images by Jenny Kim