Design

Parachute x Hedley & Bennett: Behind the Design

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY
Morgan Pansing for Parachute

You don’t have to cook like a professional to look like one. Our latest collection debuts a stunning line of restaurant grade cook wear, for the home chef. Made in collaboration with the L.A. based brand Hedley & Bennett, these kitchen accessories combine laid-back linen with a rich color palette of merlot, curry and oat. Join us for a tour of Hedley & Bennet's Apron HQ – complete with a slide, zip line and professional kitchen – plus our interview with Founder and CEO, Ellen Bennett.

 

You started your career as a line cook. What inspired you to create aprons?

Ellen Bennett, CEO and Founder: Starting an apron company was never my grand plan, but rather an idea that came to me when I was working in the kitchen of two restaurants. Every day when I arrived to work I’d have to put on a kitchen uniform that was dysfunctional and did no one justice. I thought, the food we’re making and the experiences we’re creating for guests are so beautiful, but we all feel lousy – it doesn’t have to be that way! There was a giant opportunity sitting in front of me. I committed to it, started hustling and never looked back.

How did the Parachute x Hedley & Bennett collaboration come together?

Ellen: When I met Ariel Kaye, Parachute's Founder and CEO, I immediately knew we should do something together, because there’s so much synergy between our brands. We’re both women leading companies, and pioneers in our spaces – both brands are dedicated to quality and timelessness. I love Parachute’s beautiful, neutral linens and I wanted to combine that refinement and Hedley & Bennett's expertise into the home kitchen.   

How did you approach the design process?

Ellen: The design process started with the fabrics and materials; we focused on feel, color and what our customers would love. Of course we wanted great aprons to be part of the collection – we did our classic bib silhouette in 100% linen and our newest silhouette, a Japanese-inspired smock that is flowy and elegant for the home. But then we thought about what other essentials are missing – great kitchen towels and a pot holder that doesn't suck. We leaned on Parachute for their expertise with the linens and brought our kitchen intel together to make the absolutely perfect potholder.

Hedley & Bennett has become known for their creative collaborations. What do you look for in a brand partner?

Ellen:We have! And it’s something we’re really proud of, because we don’t just do collaborations for the sake of it – we are collaborative in our DNA and believe the best outcomes come from lots of brainstorming and workshopping! When we choose our partners, we have to be aligned in perspective and ensure that there’s true admiration. Both parties need to respect the other’s contributions and bring something to the table. It’s not some marketing scheme, it’s a melding of talents and ideas to create something more beautiful than the sum of its party.

What is your creative process? As Hedley & Bennett has grown, how has your role as Founder and CEO evolved?

Ellen: As your business grows, it’s so important – but also so challenging – to always be creating! You know it’s the soul of your brand, but you also get bogged down with a million other things: HR, accounting and operations. My role has definitely shifted more to CEO, but I’ve made it a priority to bring on team members who can handle a lot of the semantics so I can wear my creative hat! The real key is having the right co-pilots around you, people who have experience and your same passion for the brand. 

How did an apron and workwear company morph into a thriving culinary and lifestyle brand?

Ellen:The morph – from apron company to culinary lifestyle brand – has been organic, and something we’re super excited about. It happened as a result of listening to our community. At first our community was mostly chefs, but then home cooks loved our aprons and we started engaging in that space more and more. We realized that home cooks, bakers, painters, potters and all kinds of makers were wearing our aprons – and doing amazing things in them. Essentially, we’ve kept our ear to the ground and responded in real time to what our community wants; cumulatively all those little decisions have led us to where we are today.

What do you love about creating?

I love that creating is the act of  seeing something in your head and bringing it to life. It’s so incredibly satisfying and gratifying. It's one of the greatest joys in life.

How has L.A. influenced your creativity?

Ellen: Being surrounded by L.A.’s melting pot of cultures, people, artists and creatives from all different fields has always given me wings. Seeing so many people in this city doing creative things makes me feel like I can, and need to, do it too. There’s so much room to grow here, and not every city is that way!

Any tips for other creative entrepreneurs?

Ellen: Make time to create, because it can become the last thing on your list, but it’s so. damn. important. Sleep at least 7 hours – seriously, sleep is so essential. Organize yourself. Surround yourself with people who are just as or more creative than you, so that you strive to be better. If you’re in a creative rut, find that thing that helps you reset, whether it’s exercise, sleep or being outdoors. Creativity doesn’t just happen, like anything in life, you have to work for it.

October 31, 2018
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