Aprons aren’t exactly the trendiest of apparel. They’re associated much more with 1950’s housewives than with modern chefs and foodies. Currently, restaurant chefs and cooks still have to wear aprons. But they’re considered more of a necessary tool than an accessory. The traditional boxy fabric creation covered with food stains has done little to help the humble apron’s image. But Los Angeles-based company Hedley & Bennett is looking to change that.
Ellen Bennett, the designer behind H&B, founded the company in 2012 while she was working at a couple of trendy LA restaurants and as a personal chef. She told Entrepreneur:
“An apron is something that every single chef uses besides a knife. It was this thing that we all wore, and it was ugly and gross and weird.”
H&B’s aprons differ from traditional restaurant aprons due to their quality, durable fabric, brass hardware, and well-placed pockets. In addition, the aprons use American made materials and are assembled in H&B’s downtown LA headquarters.
Now, the company supplies aprons to more than 700 restaurants around the world. Even well-known chefs like Thomas Keller, Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali have been spotted wearing them. And Bennett continues working to improve the product by talking to customers and chefs about what they ultimately need and want in a kitchen apron.
It’s a really simple business concept — to improve upon a simple product that people in a certain profession need to do their jobs. Though aprons might not be the most exciting product to build a business around, they are necessary for a lot of people. That gave H&B a built-in market of potential customers.
In addition, Bennett had some of her own ideas for improving the simple apron due to her experience as a chef. And her research with other chefs provided even more insights. So H&B created a simple product that is both practical and stylish. And with just that one product and idea, the company has been able to reach restaurants and chefs around the world.
Since its beginnings the company has introduced a few additional styles and some other products likely to appeal to chefs and the rest of its customer base. But it all started with a simple idea to improve the humble apron.
Image: Hedley & Bennett