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Overthinking kills innovation. You need to dream first, and worry about the details later.

Founder and CEO of Hedley & Bennett | Author of Dream First, Details Later

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How Does a Line Cook Become the Founder of a Multi Million Dollar Apron Company? (4:23)

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Scared of Failure? “Do It Anyway” (3:35)

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At 24 years old, Ellen Bennett was a cook at a 2-Michelin-Star restaurant in LA; yet she was still tying on the same $5 apron found in every diner and pub along Hollywood Boulevard. So she took her modest $300 savings and turned it into the largest gourmet apron manufacturer in the world. The same go-getter attitude that helped her launch Hedley & Bennett—a multi-million-dollar brand beloved by the likes of Martha Stewart and Momofuku’s David Chang—is also what allowed her to rapidly pivot (within 24 hours!) in the wake of the pandemic. In her inspiring, actionable talks, as well as her new book, Bennett reveals what you need to get out of your head and launch into action.

“The true story of a true heroine for our times–bold, brash, and entirely honest about the downs and ups of making dreams come true.”

Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit

Dream First, Details Later is Bennett’s forged-in-the-fire guidebook on how to quit overthinking and make things happen. Alongside her honest, encouraging, and hard-won advice, she shares her own personal journey, starting with the 2012 New York Marathon where she realized that she and her fellow restaurant workers were athletes, and like athletes, they needed a uniform—functional and beautiful. With little more than a unique idea and a personal constitution to “wake up and fight,” Bennett swapped cooking for sewing to complete her first order. By the time she was 30, she had transformed a “better apron idea” into the culinary lifestyle brand Hedley & Bennett, attracting interest from major brands like Samsung, Le Creuset, AMEX, Vans, and more. True to her cooking background, Bennett isn’t afraid to get her apron a little dirty, and she’ll enthusiastically show you how what she accomplished isn’t limited to aprons.

Regardless of your idea, entrepreneurship is about getting out of your head and launching into action. From candidly breaking down her self-starting attitude—“If the front door isn’t open, climb in through the window”—to opening up about the “non-sexy parts of being an entrepreneur,” Bennett pulls the veil back on what it means to grow your own business in her colorful, funny talks. Audiences will walk away with a renewed motivation, passion, and perseverance for pursuing their goals, no matter the obstacles in the way.

Today, Bennett’s must-have aprons are found in thousands of restaurants, and she’s expanded her line to include chef coats, work shirts, and kitchen linens. Hedley & Bennett is stocked everywhere from artisanal kitchenware company Williams Sonoma to organic grocer Whole Foods, and Bennett’s success story—and entrepreneurial insights—have been featured in Fast CompanyForbes, and The Today Show. Bennett also serves as an investor and Creative-at-large for The Fire House Hotel, an independent boutique hotel and LA destination serving New American cuisine, and has been signed as an in-house creator for Tasty, the Buzzfeed-owned viral video food series boasting nearly 17 million subscribers.


We are thrilled with Ellen Bennett's performance. She exceeded our expectations in every possible way. Ellen was well-prepared, empathetic, compassionate, attentive, professional, and charismatic. Thank you so much for your excellent organization and support through the Lavin Agency.

Somos Mujeres Latinas

Speech Topics

Dream First, Details LaterA Guide for Making Real Change Happen

As a 24-year-old line cook, Ellen Bennett couldn’t stand the kitchen staff’s poorly designed, cheaply made aprons. So when her head chef announced he was ordering a new batch, she blurted out, “Chef, I have an apron company”—even though she had no company, no business plan—just a glimmer of a design idea and a business license. Through hustle and a willingness to leap into the unknown, time and time again, she built that first order into a multi-million-dollar company called Hedley & Bennett, making aprons and kitchen gear worn by many of the world’s best chefs and home cooks everywhere.

In her book Dream First, Details Later, Bennett shares her journey as inspiration for following your dreams. Honest and bold, this gutsy guidebook teaches readers how to silence their inner worrier and launch into action—even if that means venturing outside their comfort zone. Oftentimes our doubts seem perfectly rational to us, says Bennett. But they’re likely coming from a place of fear.

This high-energy, motivational business talk will help you say goodbye to the “perfect plan” — spoiler alert, it doesn’t exist — and use creative problem-solving to get where you want to be. Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur, a seasoned leader trying something new, or an organization reinventing yourself for the future, Bennett’s insightful presentation will reassure you that you don’t need all the answers. You just need to get started.

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