From No Experience to Multi-Million Dollar Business w/ Ellen Bennett

Before cooking at Michelin star restaurants, Ellen Bennett worked as a lottery announcer, an English tutor, and a “booth babe”. All of these jobs taught her to be comfortable in uncomfortable positions. When her head chef told her that he needed new aprons for all the cooks, Ellen took to the challenge, with no business plan, no connections, and no experience designing aprons. The deadline, uncomfortability, and challenge pushed her to deliver the aprons on time, and start Hedley & Bennett.

Now, Ellen runs this multi-million dollar business that delivers to Michelin star restaurants and at-home cooks alike. Ellen talks about the necessity of committing to something scary, even when you don’t know how to handle it. She used the same approach when buying 3 rental properties nearby her home in Los Angeles, all of which have appreciated dramatically.

The mantra used in creating a successful business, investment, or anything else is Dream First, Details Later, which also happens to be the name of Ellen’s new book! An entrepreneur can get bogged down so easily with the details of any venture, so much sometimes that it could push them away from accomplishing something great.

Ashley:
This is Real Estate Rookie, show number 76.

Ellen:
I guarantee you, the people that are more willing to show up and to run no matter what hits their face, those are the ones that are going to be more successful because they don’t care about being uncomfortable, they recognize that it’s part of the journey of becoming successful.

Ashley:
My name is Ashley Kehr and I am here with Tony Robinson. And as we get through this episode, you will notice there is something very, very different about him. Tony, go ahead and break the news.

Tony:
I’ve got a huge announcement guys, as of last Friday I no longer have an appendix.

Ashley:
So he looks different, he’s going to talk different missing an organ in his body. But he always says I’m the funny one on the podcast, I really make them laugh, so he had to ask me to tone it down so that I didn’t rip his stitches open when he was laughing at my jokes.

Tony:
It’s a real-world issue for me, Ashley. I can’t laugh too hard, I can’t sneeze too hard. I’m thankful that you toned down the comedic efforts on today’s episode.

Ashley:
Well, actually I was making him laugh so hard he actually had to say his computer crashed and leave the episode for the beginning part of it to keep himself from laughing at me. So you’ll notice that I completely take over the beginning of the show, but then we have Tony jump back on and really-

Tony:
Magically re-appear.

Ashley:
Yeah. So we have a really great guest today. For this rookie reply, we have Alan Bennett on. And she wrote a book and she is going to talk about how you just need to take action, and we love her story. She is created aprons for chefs. And I know you guys are going to think this has nothing to do with real estate, but Tony, please share with us how our real estate rookies need to listen to this episode.

Tony:
You all are going to love this episode. Ellen shared so many knowledge bombs. Her book, it’s called Dream First, Details Later. And Ashley and I may be doing a little giveaway of these on our Instagram, coming up here shortly. But so many specific things to shares like starting small and how you should go about starting small to get to these bigger goals, the process that failure plays in actually finding success down the road. So there’s just so many mindset things. And like we talk all the time, Ashley, a lot of what holds people back isn’t the technical knowledge, it’s just that they’re afraid. They’re afraid of failure, they’re afraid of making mistakes, they’re afraid of setbacks. And today’s episode I think it’s the kick in the butt that everybody needs to really push past those fears.

Ashley:
So enough of me and Tony and his missing of pandemics, let’s bring Ellen onto the show. Ellen, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Ellen:
Thanks for having me, excited to be here. It’s bright and early in LA.

Ashley:
Well, we want to dive in into who you are, so can you start off telling us a little bit about yourself?

Ellen:
Absolutely. I have a company called Hedley and Bennett, we are an apron and kitchen gear brand based out of Los Angeles. When I started our company almost eight years ago, we began as really a custom apron work-wear business for just restaurants. And through the years, it’s really evolved into this direct to consumer brand that outfits not just professional chefs, but home cooks as well all over the world. So it’s been an exciting and amazing journey that I just got to summarize into a book that I just finished. And I’m very, very, very excited to push it out into the world.

Ashley:
And thank you for sending your book to us too, we’ve really enjoyed it and going through it. The thing I want you to tell everyone is how you actually started the apron company, that moment where you realize you were going to jump for it.

Ellen:
It’s a moment I think that actually happens in a lot of people’s lives and sometimes you take the leap and other times you stare at the leap and maybe decide you don’t want to do it. But I’m a big believer in just doing it and trying and failing and getting back up again. So that is exactly what I did. I was working professionally a couple of restaurants, I wanted to have my own restaurants, and I had gone to culinary school and I had this opportunity that just punched me in the face basically. I was standing in the restaurant where I was working, the 2 Michelin Star restaurant, and then at the same time I was working at another restaurant. So fine dining and normal dining at the same time. So you can imagine that was a wild experience to do that simultaneously.
At one of those spots, Joseph Centeno, my chef ran up to me and said, “Hey, there’s a girl. She’s going to make us aprons, do you want to buy one?” And I had been thinking about aprons and chef coats and how our uniforms were just the worst. The fabric was paper thin, it just didn’t look good at all. And being a professional chef is a bit like being an athlete, you’ve got to show up and no matter what comes your way, you have to push through to the end of the evening and get all the dishes out.
I’m also a marathoner and I run, I’ve done a bunch of triathlons. When I first started doing that, I had a great uniform. So I was like, “Okay, great uniforms, they need to exist in all fields.” And when he said that to me about if I wanted to buy an apron from this girl, I was like, “Wait a second, chef, I have an apron company. I will make you those aprons.” Like, “What are you talking about?” And he’s like, “What are you talking about? You’re a line cook in my kitchen, what do you mean you have an apron company?” And I just convinced myself in him right there on the spot to give me that order. I asked him for his turnaround time, what was he willing to pay? What did he need? What did he want? And out of the blue Hedley and Bennett was born with that 40 unit apron order.

Ashley:
I love that story. And you didn’t even have a company then, you said yes and you were going after it. I think some people listening right now might be thinking, “Okay, well, what does an apron company have to do with real estate?” But it was that moment there, that moment you took that leap. So why don’t you tell us that experience and how that ties into your book?

Ellen:
Absolutely. Yes, I’m the founder and owner of an apron company. I could be selling houses, I could be selling tables, chairs, it doesn’t actually matter, that’s not the point. The point is that I have this idea or this belief system that is just you got to just show up and start trying and you have to show up and start learning and doing the work. And when you don’t do that and you just die in the details, if you will, it’s really difficult to actually make forward progress. And the book is called Dream First, Details Later. So it’s in the title itself, you just need to begin working on the dream before you let yourself stop working on the dream because the details get in the way.

Ashley:
And with real estate investors, we always talk about analysis paralysis, getting stuck and over analyzing. And I think your book really focuses on that. Is do not keep doing your research and fine tuning the details, it’s at some point you have to take action. So what happened from there? So you said yes to doing the aprons and how did it go? Obviously you’ve become successful, you’re here today. But what did that look like? How did you plan that out, creating this company from scratch and already having one order with not even really knowing what you’re doing to create this company?

Ellen:
Totally. So when I began it, it was border first and then everything else will follow. And there’s nothing like a deadline and a timeline that you have to hit that’ll get you moving. So committing to something that’s maybe a little scary is sometimes a great idea for yourself. In my case, I clocked out and I started running all over Los Angeles, talking to different people I know. I could speak Spanish fluently, I’m half Mexican, half English. And that was really quite, I would say, a huge gift for me because I’m in LA and there’s a lot of sewing companies here and they all speak Spanish. So I was able to convince several people to just help me figure out these first aprons. And I did it by asking a lot of questions, being a very curious George, and having no ego about it.
There was not a moment where I said like, “I already know everything I need to know about how to do this.” Instead it was quite the opposite, I was like, “I have an order I have to deliver and I have no idea what I’m doing, can you help me? I know what I want, I know what he wants, but I need a pattern, I need this, I need that.” And I actually bartered a lot at the beginning to get what I needed, and that’s a really great way to be resourceful. Don’t worry about what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. And in my case, I worked at a 2 Michelin Star restaurant. You go to eat at Providence, that’s a $700 meal. So I was like, “You know what? That is collateral. I can use that with somebody.”
I had a friend who’s an incredible person, he’s a foodie, and he’s also a designer. I said, “Kevin help me make this pattern that I have to make for this order that I got. And I will come and I’ll cook you breakfast or dinner, whatever you want and it’s going to be epic, you already know it.” And he was like, “You’re right, I do know that. Okay, deal.” So I was bartering my food skills to get things that I needed for that first order instead of sitting there thinking, “How am I going to pay for this? Who’s going to help me?” Worrying, killing myself with the anxiety of like, “What am I going to do?” Instead I just started doing it. And it was by no means perfect, but I strongly believe in progress over perfection. So it was just every day chipping away at the progress and eventually I got that order complete, I turned it into my chef on time.
But I’ll tell you, Ashley, two days, 24 hour, 48 hours after I turned those aprons in, he was like, “Bennett.” That’s what he called me when he was mad about something. He’s like, “Bennett, these aprons suck, what happened?” And I was like… And I had to figure out what the hell to do because I had an upset customer and he was my one and only customer. I decided that I needed to own it because I created this and I needed to own every piece of it. As a business owner or an entrepreneur, anybody getting out there in the world, you can’t just say, “Oh, I’m going to do this,” and then walk away if things go south because guaranteed things are going to go south, it’s just part of the journey.
So I said, “Chef, give me half the aprons back, I will fix the straps for you. And then while I’m doing that, you keep the other half.” I went back to my little workshop and figured out the new strap system that we have to this day, which is brass hardware and beautiful, thick straps from an American mill and they’re so durable and gorgeous. But I had a massive challenge ahead with the deadline that helped me get to the other side. So that was also a gift even though it wasn’t comfortable in any way shape or form to have had that happen.

Ashley:
And you learn and you grew from that experience. If you probably would have been successful right off the bat, like your first apron, do you think that you would be where you were today if you didn’t, “Oh my gosh, I have to fix this,” you’re under pressure, you’re under stress, your only customer, do you think that that was a lesson learned and not even learning how to overcome an obstacle and having that scenario happened to you, do you think that made you a better entrepreneur today?

Ellen:
I think it made me realize very quickly on that this was not going to be a walk in the park and that if I really wanted to do this I needed to be 100% all in to this idea and I was. I was passionate enough to have been punched in the face by this experience and still want to show up again the next day. And that’s a differentiator from one person to the next because you could be an entrepreneur, a realtor, whatever it is that you are, if there’s 10 people, what is the level of enthusiasm and willingness to show up in each one of those people. I guarantee you, the people that are more willing to show up into run no matter what hits their face, those are the ones that are going to be more successful because they don’t care about being uncomfortable, they recognize that it’s part of the journey of becoming successful is that feeling. And to this day, I’m more uncomfortable than comfortable all the time, and I’ve just become used to it.

Ashley:
With that, do you use that for people you hire in your business too? So as a real estate investor, a lot of people are working with realtors, contractors, attorneys, you have your whole team, do you look for that too when you’re hiring for yourself?

Ellen:
100%. We pressure test that pretty hard actually to make sure that people are entrepreneurial enough and that they are resourceful, that they have no ego. Doesn’t matter what school they went to, people don’t talk about that in our company. You could go to Stanford or you could go to Notre Dame and nobody knows that you did or didn’t. Because frankly it’s irrelevant, it’s how do you show up every day? And that is something that’s been amazing for us because we have this brilliant rock star world-class team that just doesn’t have that ego, is willing to learn, and every day is trying to get better. And that is what you want in a team around you.

Ashley:
Tony, I feel like I’ve taken over the show a little bit. Do you want to go ahead and jump in? I’ve been so excited talking about that.

Tony:
No, no absolutely. You’re killing it with the questions I don’t want to interrupt. So Ellen, what are your thoughts on taking that first leap? I love what you said about just always being uncomfortable, how does someone get to that point where they’re ready and willing to actually take that leap?

Ellen:
There is no place or formula for how you start to feel that way, you simply just have to start and do one little thing that is out of your normal day to day actions. Carve out an hour, carve out 30 minutes, whatever it is, but do something that you are uncomfortable about and keep showing up to that thing, and you are essentially building this confidence belt. Every single time you show up, you do something it’s not comfortable and then you get to the other side and you’re like, “All right, I did that.” And then tomorrow you’re like, “Okay, let me bite a bigger piece off of this apple and chew that even harder. And now I’m going to go bite off a piece of a giant thing and a bigger thing and a bigger thing.” And next thing you know, you’re just biting continents. But you had to start with a tiny little morsel, like a little piece of bread. So go small and then grow it up, you don’t have to start at huge.
If you are doing real estate and you want to begin with it… I’ll give you an example in my own life where I had always wanted to own property and I didn’t really know where to begin. And my mother is really into real estate as well and so one day she just said, “Hey, there’s these tiny little cottages in your neighborhood, there’s three of them and they’re so cute. I don’t know, maybe think about getting those.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m only 27, 28, should I really do that? Do I have the money to do it?” I decided with my husband that we could figure out and we refinanced our first house, we took some money out and we got that other property, and they put it on the market but it didn’t have any photos so no one was bidding on it. And next thing you know, we had done a higher bid and then we went and saw the property and there were all these things wrong with it. So then we said, “Well, you need to take this, this and this off the house.”
And next thing you know I’m negotiating this down and we get an amazing deal on the three cottages, and we’ve had them now for five years. And it’s been an incredible investment for us and our neighborhood, Echo Park in LA has gone up dramatically as I’m sure you guys know. So it was just one of those things where yes it was scary, yes it was uncomfortable, I had never done it before, I refinanced my house to do it but it was worth it. But I had to start thinking about it and trying to do this in a way that didn’t destroy everything else I was doing, but I did it and it worked. And now we’ve bought many, many other properties because of it. But it was this little one that I did with my husband that pushed me over the edge and now I do it on my own.

Ashley:
I can see from here Tony drooling over the fact that maybe these cottages are short-term rentals, and you started to jump into that.

Tony:
I’m the king of short-term rentals.

Ellen:
Amazing.

Tony:
We’ve got quite a few spread out across the Southern California as well. But I guess I want to back it up a little bit because you come to it on something that I thought was really important for our listeners to understand because Ashley and I talk about this quite a bit as well. Is that you said just start small and whatever the next easiest action is, that’s what you should be focusing on. I get people that reach out to me that haven’t done any real estate deals yet and they’re asking me questions about what happens when I get like five deals, how do I get financing after that point? I’m like, “Slow down, you got to get deal numbers done first, you got to focus.”

Ellen:
Get your first deal.

Tony:
Right. “Don’t worry about how you scale, worry about how you get that first one.” So I guess here’s a question for Ellen, you’re not an expert in all things, but I’m just curious what your thought process is. But if you’re trying something new and you don’t really know what that next step is, how would you go about educating yourself? Because I think that’s sometimes what holds people back as well, is like they’re not even sure where to start or where to begin. How do you decide on what that first step should be?

Ellen:
I don’t even overthink the first step because frankly the first step is probably going to be the wrong step. So why the hell are you worrying about it so much? You’re going to make a mistake. Those first aprons I made were terrible, but if I hadn’t made those first aprons I wouldn’t have made all the mistakes that I had to make to get to the next place. And there’s a line in the book that it says, “When you get somewhere, get to the next somewhere.” Well, you got to get yourself in the car and get yourself to the first place to get to the next place. So my flaw on that is what is that thing that is driving you? What is something that you are extremely excited about?
If it in this case is starting a business or doing real estate, okay, then start going to open houses. It’s not rocket science, get yourself in an environment where you are around people doing the thing that you want to do and observe them and watch them. Get an internship somewhere, start reading books. That’s why I worked at these restaurants, I was trying to learn how to run a restaurant. And guess what, I realized I didn’t want to have a restaurant. But if I hadn’t done that and I had actually gone and gotten alone and started my own restaurants, I would have spent a lot more money figuring out that I hated that before just going and learning and trying it firsthand, which is what I ended up doing. Then because of doing that, I was able to come up with Hedley and Bennett there and went on a completely different path that has absolutely everything to do with food, but yet nothing to do with it, it’s a totally different world.

Ashley:
Well, I want to ask because even before I believe you were in the restaurant business, you were in Mexico City and you had a different job there. Do you care to talk about that at all?

Ellen:
Totally, I actually think it’s really important. When I was going to culinary school in Mexico, my parents were like, “That’s insane, what do you mean you’re moving to Mexico? All of your friends are here in the US you’re here, why are you doing that?” And I said, “No, I love it there.” And so I moved, which was wild thing to do when you’re 18 years old and you have no family in Mexico City specifically. In order to sustain myself out there, I had to get a bunch of jobs, and every single one of those jobs was very bizarre and just eclectic to say the least. I was a lottery announcer on television for Mexico, so I would announce the winning lottery numbers and I was also a host on an American football show, like the token cute cheerleader girl that talks on halftime and I was also a English tutor, I was a booth babe. There’s actually a whole layer of-

Ashley:
What is a booth babe?

Ellen:
Oh my gosh, it’s the funniest thing. So when you go to a trade show and there’s those cute girls in suits that talk to you about whatever the heck that stand is selling, that’s a booth, babe. It’s literally a babe that stands at a booth, ridiculous I know. But what was so great about all those jobs is I learned something that I now use in business. And so I think that’s another part of the journey, is recognizing that there’s no straight line. It isn’t just like you go from A to B to C and suddenly you’re successful and then you IPO and now you’re a millionaire. No, get over that, that’s just not the way it works. I did all these wild and weird jobs that helped me be able to handle negotiations now and that helped me be able to show up and talk to anybody about anything. But if I hadn’t done all of those funny, weird jobs, I wouldn’t have those skills. So the road takes you in weird places sometimes and just know that you’re learning every step of the way.

Tony:
Now, I love your thought process on just embracing the fact that you can’t plan everything out perfectly. I’m sure you’d never would have assumed that your job as a booth babe would have turned you into an author and a business owner at some point.

Ellen:
100%.

Tony:
But I’m sure there’s some elements of, I guess planning that action that we should be undertaking. So, Ellen, how do you balance those two things? How do you balance planning for those dreams, goals that you want with also still understanding that things won’t go according to those plans?

Ellen:
So typically if I’m trying to do something brand new and very different, I really dream big and hard before I start throwing too much process at it because it sometimes can shadow the creativity. So if you are trying to do something that’s totally unique and different, whiteboard your guts out, dream it all out, throw it out there, and start figuring out just chipping away at it. Once that thing gets momentum and it’s starting to actually make sense and come together, absolutely, take a beat and start throwing some process at it and planning. But most of the time people plan way more aggressively than they dream. And so what I’m saying is not to not plan.
And it’s funny you’ve said that too. Because in the book I talk about how halfway through my journey, let’s say four or five years in, I really recognized that I needed to backfill processes and people and all kinds of things that I was missing. But if I hadn’t made those giant leaps of faith at the beginning, I would not have Hedley and Bennett right now, I would not have had the, I think, the stamina or courage to do it because I didn’t know what I didn’t know so I just started it and I just kept walking. And that is a beautiful gift, it’s like the gift of ignorance a little bit. I feel like, “I have a dream, let’s do this.” And then you’re like, “Ooh, this is harder than I thought, but okay I’ll chip away a little bit more at it.” And then all of a sudden it’s a business and you have to put processes in. So what I’m saying is dream hard first then do the details later. It doesn’t say details never, it says details later.

Tony:
I love that. I just want to highlight on that because you said that there’s a benefit in being ignorant sometimes. And when you think about some big companies today, like Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t come from MySpace, he didn’t come from some other social media network, Jeff Bezos didn’t come from Walmart or some other retailer, Elon Musk didn’t come from Ford or some other company. It’s like these entrepreneurs who don’t really know what the limitations are of an industry are typically the ones that come in and shake it up. So I just wanted to highlight that because it’s such a true thing that you see in business over and over and over again.

Ellen:
All the time. Experience sometimes can be your biggest crutch because you are overthinking things or over worrying about it. And yes, it’s good to have a good balance of it. Now I have things that I know that I can sit down with another entrepreneur and say, “Here’s the 30 things you just really need to avoid, don’t do these mistakes.” But generally speaking just showing up and learning it firsthand is quite good, it’s quite good for the journey.
I think I can say like nine MBAs from my nine years of business versus having actually gone to business school. And I know how to run a company profitably, I’ve scaled it to a multi-million dollar business, we outfit some of the best chefs in the world, we’re in every major hotel and restaurant you can think of, and then on top of that we layered on a direct to consumer brand. Did I know how to do any of that? Absolutely not. I have team members that are so brilliant and so intelligent that come from massive corporations like Bain and McKinsey and Deutsche Bank and they now work at Hedley and Bennett with me. It’s this really beautiful thing because you realize that everybody wants to be an environment where they’re learning, everybody wants to be entrepreneurial, not just entrepreneurs.

Ashley:
I think to add on to Tony’s point there is too that you see often companies saying that they don’t want, especially lower entry positions, they don’t want someone with experience because they don’t want them to bring their bad habits from another company. They want to train them from the ground up and create them how they want them to be. But Ellen, if you could go into how do you bring these people on board? How are you building your team and getting these team members to be a part of your company?

Ellen:
Totally. It’s now a really big part of our organization and we have a people ops manager who’s incredible. And honestly, I don’t know how we survived so long without her or all the people that support us on an HR level. But it starts with a really fantastic, I was going to say epic because it actually is quite epic, it’s a pretty epic onboarding deck. And I walk every person through when they join our team and it’s about like 40 pages long, very colorful, there’s background music, arcade fire’s playing in the beginning part of it, it’s a whole thing. And then they get a Hedley and Bennett apron, they write their name on it, and it’s like welcome to the squad. It’s like you’re getting indoctrinated really into the organization. And then separately, we have a big values deck that we walk everybody through. And they’re not just values that we threw up on a wall and never think about, there’s things that actually make sense like show up, never stop improving, make magic. And these are just basic ideas but that the company uses day in and day out.
So if you want to have a good onboarding, you got to actually do it even after the onboarding is over. You’ve got to say we make magic and then you got to actually show up and make magic. So that’s a big part of it. I also just onboarded our new art director last week. And I said to her, “I am here to help you feel empowered, but also you need to know that my expectation is that you’re going to fail a lot. And if you’re not failing, we’re not doing our job. You need to fail and try things and get weird and get crazy and do stuff that’s unusual because that’s what’s going to push us forward. So don’t feel like you have to be perfect or everything has to go according to plan, we are here around you to support you so that you can be creative.” And I think that’s important to remind people because that is in that sticky, weird place, that’s where breakthroughs happen. Well,

Ashley:
Ellen, one thing that really intrigued me about your journey, your story is that you actually took your business and you pivoted in 2020. Can you talk about that, how you went from doing workwear and aprons to completely changing what you’re producing and how that affected your employees, your company, as a whole, and even your mindset to decide to make that shift?

Ellen:
Yeah, it was really the most radical thing we’ve ever done, which is saying something. Because when you’ve run a company for eight years, you do a lot of radical things to keep it all flowing. But it’s actually the last chapter in my book and it’s called wake up and fight. I want to show you the page because I believe it’s just very appropriate to what happened. From one day to the next, decided to wake up and fight that’s exactly what happened. So the day of the shutdown here in Los Angeles, everyone was coming into the factory to shut it down and to send everybody home. And I couldn’t believe that our entire lives had… Here it is, it is very colorful, wake up and fight.
We came in and people were walking out of the building carrying Mac desktops big, giant ones into their cars to take them home and it was very bizarre. I was looking around at our sewing machines and these stacks of fabric that we have here in our 16,000 square foot factory and I couldn’t believe we were just going home, even though the world now was in a crisis. I went on Instagram and I saw Christian Siriano, who’s a wedding designer, he made my wedding dress, and he was like, “I’m going to make face masks because New York is running out of supplies.” And I thought, “Man, this guy’s a wedding designer. If he can do it, we should do it too. We should help, we can’t not.” And in that moment, very similar to when chef said, “Hey, there’s a girl, she’s going to make us aprons, do you want to buy one?” I was like, “We have to make face masks.”
I grabbed a piece of fabric, I grabbed my head of sewing and I was like, “Let’s figure this out.” We called a friend who’s a doctor and over FaceTime basically came up with a fabric design that fit for masks, a cutout, a pattern, just like with the apron. And within 24 hours, we had honed through all the details, got it up on our website the next morning through a buy one donate one model. Mind you, this was a month or so before the CDC said everybody needs to be wearing face masks, so it was pretty early on. Now everybody and their mother literally sells a face mask, but back then nobody was doing this, so it was crazy to be doing it. And we put it up, I announced it on Instagram, it went completely viral. And people were locked down at home terrified, their entire lives were falling beneath them as was ours because restaurants had completely stopped too.
Everybody started buying the masks. And so by Monday, this was on Friday, by Saturday, we put them up, by Monday we were already cutting and sewing face masks in the facility. And for the next three months, all we made were face masks, we made nothing else. We continued to sell our products online, but we rallied so incredibly hard to do our part and just contribute and look at what we had and not what we didn’t have. Remember I said that earlier in the conversation, like talk about, that’s exactly what we were doing. I’m like, “We’ve got the wherewithal and the knowledge and the tools and an actual factory in LA. We can’t just shut this down, we’re going to help.” And to this date, we have sold a million masks and we donated half a million masks to frontline workers, hospitals, children’s hospital, foundations like Baby to Baby that served so many different communities that need help, lot the Latin communities, black communities here in Los Angeles. And we had to do it and I’m so grateful for the horribly hard but really good experience that we got out of it.

Tony:
Ellen, you’re a huge action taker obviously, and I think this is just another prime example of you doing that to go from, you said you’re shutting down the factory on the middle of the week and by Saturday you got your design and by Monday you guys are shipping out the new ones. So I love how you don’t waste a good opportunity to learn something new. I want to back it up a little bit because you talked a little bit earlier about bringing on your art director and how you told that person that you expect them to fail early on. That’s such an important life lesson in general, real estate investing, yes, but just in life like in general. Anytime you do something new, you’re going to suck at it, one’s an expert from day one and I think so many people when they go into something new, and I’m talking to our listeners a little bit more.
But for those of you that are thinking about becoming real estate investors but haven’t because you’re afraid of that phase of being sucky, you just have to accept that those are the trials and tribulations you have to go through to eventually be a successful entrepreneur. Ashley, I’m sure when you first started, you made a lot of mistakes as a real estate investor. I know for me the second house that we purchased, it’s turned into a nightmare this year, we’re doing everything we can to try and sell it. But had I not gone through that process, maybe I wouldn’t have bought the six or seven short-term rentals that we have in the last eight months or so. So I thought it was a really important thing. I didn’t want to pass up on that because everyone needs to understand that failure is a natural part of success and no one who’s achieved extreme success has done so without failing multiple times along the way. So thanks for highlighting that.

Ellen:
100%. And if you [crosstalk 00:34:06].

Tony:
I want to touch on one other thing.

Ellen:
No, I was just going to say that is actually why a huge reason why I wrote my book. Most of it is about that sucky part of the journey. It is not look at how great we are and how successful I am, it is actually look at how much sucky things I had to go through to get to a place where I was somewhat better than before. And oh, and now the floor just fell out again and there’s an earthquake and there’s a swarm of bees and it’s just a Tuesday. The entire book is that explanation because if you sometimes notice, if you go to the business book section, a lot of the books are like, “And then we IPO-ed, and then we sold it for $200 million.” And you’re like, “Well, how did you hire your receptionist? How did you get a business license?”
Nobody’s talking about that because they don’t like to talk about the crappy parts. So this book is the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beginning, and the middle and the squishy horrible other parts attached to it, and that’s the journey. So don’t ever be fooled by Entrepreneur Magazine and Advance Guide, it is not a perfect road to success, period. I love those magazines but sometimes they paint a funny picture like Vogue with skinny people. It’s like, “You don’t have to be skinny, you can be normal because that’s what the rest of the world’s like.”

Tony:
Ellen, I’m curious what your thoughts are. And you’re not an expert in all things but I just love your mindset so I want to share with the listeners. How do you balance using those people that have achieved success as motivation without falling into the trap of comparing yourself too much? Because I think there are times where it is good to look at those successes and use that as motivation, but how do you not overdo it to the point where you’re just constantly comparing yourself and now holding yourself back?

Ellen:
Yeah, it’s a great question and I know a lot of successful people that still struggle with it and I definitely have to recognize when I’m doing that. If you’re not in a good mental state, don’t go on social media, that is the last place you need to go to recover. Going on Instagram and just being like, “Oh, my business isn’t doing very well right now. Let me just go stare at the fake part of people’s lives to make myself feel better.” This is not going to happen. So for one, I’d say chill it on the social media when you are not doing well or you’re feeling down about whatever it is that’s happening in your journey or your career.
Get out there in the world, go get yourself inspired. If you are down and out about something, go to the beach, go for a run, like go to the park, look at nature, just get out of your head is what I’m saying. And at least for me when I put myself into action, whatever action, that can be painting, it could be cooking. I love cooking, it’s very therapeutic for me it gets me snapped out of it. I’m like, “All right, you’re done, good job. You felt your feelings, now what are you going to do? Like keep going.” And that is just you feel them, you find them, don’t ignore them, and then keep going, keep walking. But don’t spend your entire time looking at what everyone else is doing or else you’re wasting time.

Ashley:
Well, Ellen, thank you so much for joining us today. We have really loved having you on the show and taking all of your value that you have to give. But can you tell listeners where they can find out more information about you where they can get your book, stuff like that?

Ellen:
Yeah. So you can follow me on Ellen Marie Bennett on Instagram when you’re doing well, don’t go on social if you’re not doing great. So Instagram TikTok, Hedley and Bennett, and also go to our website, Hedleyandbennett.com, and that’s H-E-D-L-E-Y-A-N-D-B-E-N-N-E-T-T, you can get our book there where you have signed copies, which is very cool. And we teamed up with a local bookstore to distribute them, so really excited about that. And I hope that you pick up a copy of my book, Dream First, Details Later. Doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re in real estate, if you’re in childcare, it really doesn’t matter. The idea is that this is going to give you a kick in the pants to just get out there and begin.

Ashley:
Ellen, I actually received two copies of your book. So would it be okay if I did a little Instagram giveaway with the other one for our fans?

Ellen:
1000%, I love that idea.

Ashley:
Okay, awesome. Okay, good. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m Ashley at wealth from rentals on Instagram and my lovely cohost is Tony Robinson who no longer has an appendix and you can follow him on Instagram at TonyJRobinson. Thank you again for listening and we’ll see you guys on Wednesday.

 

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