Hops and Dreams: Brewing up Success

By Melissa Slater, Hughes Agency
January 16, 2024


Collaborators and Cocktails is Endeavor’s signature networking series. Each quarter, the team brings in an individual (or individuals) who is a leader in their role, brand, or field to share their professional journey, creative point of views, breakthrough ideas, and trailblazing work – all part of Endeavor’s mission to help their members and guests access training opportunities without having to leave town.


Many of the presenters have years of experience in brand development, creative strategy, and advertising under their belts.


But a couple of them started their journey at a blue desk, right here at Endeavor.


nicole brian cendrowskiEndeavor closed out 2023’s Collaborators and Cocktails series with Brian and Nicole Cendrowski, the larger than life, co-founders of Fireforge Crafted Beer. Fireforge is not only one of Greenville’s most loved home-grown brands, it is also the 2023 recipient of a gold medal and two bronze medals from the World Beer Championships, the most prestigious beer competition in the world.


Although the brand, today, has many accolades to its name, that wasn’t always the case. Brian and Nicole’s journey to craft beer hoppiness included many challenges, milestones, victories, pivots, growth and…tastings. As they shared their inspiring and candid story with a thirsty audience, three points of advice stuck out to me.


1. Be curious. Ask questions.

The best leaders are endlessly curious when it comes to learning, and learning only happens when we ask questions. Questions are a powerful, underrated tool that fuel innovation, help in challenges, and ultimately, produce growth.


2. Small, daily actions over time yield results.

Often times, small advances seem insignificant in the moment, so we often dismiss them. But consistency is key. If you continue those small actions over time, it can lead to significant results. Brian and Nicole started homebrewing years before Fireforge existed. They started small but stayed consistent. And look at them now!


3. Have hope, promise, and a village of folks.

This one is pretty straightforward, but maybe the most difficult to attain. It’s easy to give up when things are not going how you expect, want or planned. We often throw in the towel too soon when things get hard and give up far too quickly on the hope and passion we once had. Brian and Nicole had their fair share of upsets when starting the successful brewery and brand they now have, but they wouldn’t have succeeded had they not continued to have that hope, promise, and of course, a lot of hard work.


Having a village of people who support you is important in any initiative you undertake. Your village provides a place to be seen, heard and validated. You may get good advice, bad advice, or no advice, but you always have those people to bounce ideas off, to help you persevere when you have failures, and to cheer you on when you have success.


I’ve attended multiple Collaborators & Cocktails speaker series events, and all have been entertaining and insightful. However, there is something extremely special and heartwarming, albeit tearful for many, to hear a “full-circle” experience of someone – starting at a blue desk in a coworking space and now producing world-famous beer.


The team at Endeavor has a great lineup of guest speakers, collaborators (and new cocktails) lined up for 2024 and I can’t wait to hear who I’ll be learning from next.