Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CIE News

Friday Feature: Create, Do, and GROW ILM

by Nikki Kroushl on May 19, 2017

All photos via Adrienne Vendetti Hodges.


These words sprout from the wall in mossy letters, outlining the mission of GROW ILM, Wilmington’s only downtown coworking space, which opened in late April 2017. They are also a personal mantra for co-owner Adrienne Vendetti Hodges.

“‘Grow’ has been a term that I’ve always used,” Vendetti says. “You have to grow your business. You have to grow as a person.  I just see so much growth here [in Wilmington] that I want to be a part of it. It’s symbolic—we’re all growing here as a community, and I think that’s what good cities are made of: good people who work hard.”

GROW (which alternately stands for “Get Right On Working”) is a small space, “urban and intimate,” meant for no more than twenty or twenty-five coworking tenants at a time, Vendetti says. It has all the amenities expected from a coworking space, including WiFi, a kitchenette stocked with local caffeinated beverages, lockers, a conference room, printers and scanners, and plenty of seating from tables to bar stools to sofas. It is stylish though minimalistic with high ceilings and a modern feel, but possesses touches of green like the motto on the wall and the succulents potted in an artist-tenant’s ceramics. GROW expected a large proportion of its tenants to be millennials, but many of them, Vendetti says, are “PhDs, authors, artists,” Boston Public Library remote workers, graphic designers, and more.


The inspiration for the coworking space in downtown came from all the time Vendetti spent in coworking spaces in Boston, New York, Miami, and other large cities, building her first and most successful entrepreneurial venture alongside her sister—How to Be a Redhead.

“My sister and I had this dream for a website called ‘How to Be a Redhead,” Vendetti says. “My parents said, ‘Do it. Just do it.’ Do is a big part—that’s why ‘create, do, grow’ is the motto for GROW.” So she quit her stable law firm job of several years to launch a website about redhead beauty with her then-college senior sister, Stephanie Vendetti (also a co-owner of GROW).

Six and a half years later, H2BAR has a book, one million page views per month, and 2,000 monthly beauty box subscribers. “And there’s really no secret to it, just consistency,” Vendetti says. “We just did it every day. We’ve done really well because we’re passionate about it, and that’s just something that makes you grow is when you are passionate about something.”

Adrienne Vendetti

Vendetti’s second passion project (and by extension, second business) began with a $25,000 Craigslist property in Wilmington after she and her husband moved to North Carolina because of the military. It has since become the Nora Alan Group, a real estate company that flips houses downtown, especially on the north side. Flipping and staging properties is something that—like redhead beauty and coworking spaces—calls to Vendetti.

“Everything is kind of connected,” Vendetti goes on to say. H2BAR inspired the GROW coworking space, and the Nora Alan Group’s work with properties means that Vendetti already has a building set aside for a GROW 2.0 in 2018.

“GROW has been challenging for me because it’s the first business I’ve done where I have to physically be here,” Vendetti says. “It’s so one-on-one. But like my other businesses, I show up and I do it every day. I know that’s the secret to success: creating it and doing it and growing your business, being so consistent to the point that you could do it blindfolded.”


By no means does consistency eliminate all hurdles. Vendetti tells one story about the early days of How to Be a Redhead, where she and her sister were invited to be on the venture capital funding show Shark Tank. But after five days of closed-door boot camp prep in California, H2BAR was abruptly cut from the show because the judges wanted to go to dinner early.

“I get punched in the face every day by things that happen,” Vendetti says. That’s what it means to be an entrepreneur, after all. “But you just have to keep getting up.”

Much of the support to keep getting up can come from a community of like minds. That’s part of what entrepreneur associations and coworking spaces like GROW and the CIE are about. “I want there to be more entrepreneurs coming to Wilmington, so I think the CIE is amazing,” Vendetti says. “I wasn’t a part of anything entrepreneur-wise in Miami, but I should have been.”

Vendetti doesn't let owning three small businesses stress her out, though.

“I love being an entrepreneur and I love my life,” she says. “That’s the secret to being happy and doing well.”

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Also remember to follow GROW ILM journey on Facebook, @GROWilm_ on Twitter, and @grow ilm on Instagram.