Ellen Bennett: From Line Cook to CEO of a Multimillion-Dollar Company
All it took was an apron to set chef Ellen Bennett on the path to creating the multimillion-dollar company Hedley & Bennett.
Beloved by tastemakers like Martha Stewart and Alton Brown and top chefs like David Chang, April Bloomfield, and Nobu Matsuhisa, Bennett is sharing how to achieve success in her book, “Dream First, Details Later: How to Quit Overthinking and Make It Happen.”
For Ellen, opportunity presented itself while she was working as a line cook at a restaurant in L.A.
“My very first order and the start of my company happened because I took a chance and spoke up,” she said, recalling, ‘There’s a girl and she’s going to make us aprons, do you want to buy one?’ And at that moment, if I hadn’t leaped in and said ‘I have an apron company! I will make you those aprons,’ Hedley and Bennett wouldn’t be here today.”
Her first order was for 40 aprons. She took out $300 from her savings account and created her first collection.
As she helps others achieve success too, Bennett says “showing up” can help build confidence. Next, she says, “Try something that is a little outside your comfort zone. It can be a recipe you’ve never done, or a piano lesson or an internship or attempting to do something you’re not good at and at that moment when you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t good at it, stay in it and get comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling till you are better at it and then boom! You just made yourself a notch on your life confidence belt. Show up for the scary stuff and do it even if you fail. Sometimes you learn the most (from) failure on your way to the successes.”
Once you believe in yourself, Bennett explains how get others on board: “Use humble enthusiasm to get people on board with your wild ideas. It’s a whole chapter in my book where I break down how to talk to people and make friends, be human with people and NOT treat people like transactions because they aren’t and no one likes feeling that way.”
Bennett’s path to success was filled with its own challenges, and she hopes by sharing her story and lessons that she can help people attain their goals. “I hope it serves as inspiration and a reminder for the dreamers and the doers and the people out there that you are the driver of your life car and you need to just begin… Stop thinking about it, start doing it.”