Morning Hustle Storytelling Recap!

Words cannot even begin to describe the incredible amount of energy at our first Morning Hustle Storytelling event last week on "Becoming Unstoppable". In case you missed it, we wanted to give a brief recap on how just how amazing the morning turned out to be! 

We started with a group of morning hustlers who lined up outside of Fair Market in hopes of snagging one of the goodie bags filled with swag from Juice Society, Nicely Noted, Lacquer, Outdoor Voices, Flash Tattoos, Sway WaterKIND Snacks, Latika Soap, Crubom Raw Chocolate, Soul Cycle & Progress Coffee. After checking in, attendees fueled up with delicious acai bowls from Blenders & Bowls and got a little help waking up from Chameleon Cold Brew as they chatted with our benefitting nonprofit, Girls Empowerment Network, and mingled with other attendees. Is was so inspiring to see how people came to together first thing in the morning, and were able to truly make such a positive impact on one another simply by showing up. (PS did we mention that with ticket sales we were able to donate $370 to Girls Empowerment Network!?)

While Sia's "Unstoppable" played in the background our emcee, Kelly Stocker, kicked things off at 8:30am on the dot. Our first speaker group was from Girls Empowerment Network followed by four more stories told by members of our inspiring Austin community about their journeys in becoming unstoppable.

Jill Faulkner, Founder of Stick With It Co., spoke about leaving her stable job as an executive assistant to pursue her dream of inspiring others and fulfilling herself.


Our next speaker was Lindsay Hoffman who shared her tale on how she moved to New York and landed her dream radio job after quitting her previous job on the spot with only her dream to fuel her plan. (Lindsay hosts weekly storytelling events of her own in her back yard…How awesome is that?)

Next we had Cristina Arbona, Founder of Women on the Rise who told the hilarious story of a wedding fashion disaster and how it ultimately fueled her ambition to take risks and begin the development of her side hustle. 

Wrapping up the day was Kristina Gonzalez (a new member of The Refinery, oh heyyy), who talked about working all the jobs and wearing all the hats, and finding so much joy in the adventure of chasing after multiple career goals. Check her Kristina's travel blog here!


We will be hosting a Morning Hustle Storytelling event quarterly once we open doors this Fall! Hope to see you (and hear your stories) at the next one! 

The Art of Storytelling | By Kelly Stocker

We could not be more excited to be hosting our first ever storytelling event next week and we couldn't do it without our fabulous moderator and expert public speaker, Kelly Stocker. Check out some tips below on how to be an epic storyteller from the master herself! 

Photo originally from The Every Girl.

Photo originally from The Every Girl.

Storytelling is totally hot right now. From casual backyard events to the vaunted TED talk, the world at large is embracing our natural inclination to share. Next week is the kickoff to RefineryATX’s Morning Hustle series, with yours truly as the moderator. I’ve told stories and I’ve heard stories. And sometimes they’re really, really bad. See also: every best man speech ever.

IMHO the archnemesis to telling a good story is uncertainty. Eliminating that gets you 90% of the way to being a compelling storyteller. Here are some basic steps to move you in the right direction.

Building a Story

The five components of a story are the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. 101 right? It may feel silly but take the time to storyboard your tale - whether it’s a personal story or one you’ve written - to help it flow smoothly and meet audience expectations.

Share Your Story (Don’t Memorize It)

Connecting with an audience means being familiar enough with your story to go with the flow. Even if you’re telling a fictional story, know it well enough that it feels real. Punch up the funny parts, be sincere when you’re talking about the important bits. You’re at a dinner party, not a debriefing.

Have Some Stakes

You can have a lovely speaking voice and an interesting style but without stakes, the story isn’t as engaging. Why should they invest the emotional energy in your tale? What’s the thing that drives your plot? Also make sure you’re not just talking about what transpires but how you feel about the event or events.

Bookend Your Story With Great Lines

A story should arc with a clear beginning, middle and end. No surprise there… but make yours stand out by having a gut-grabbing first line and a totally “nailed it!” last line. Clever bookends (first line, last line) help define the story and are satisfying for the audience. It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.


  • Keep it simple. Have a central core concept to avoid meandering.
  • Draw it out, write it down, understand the arc and you’ll know the flow.
  • Practice to get a sense of pace, with an audience if available.


  • Rant. Boooooooring.
  • Insert forced humor because you feel like you have to
  • Wing it
Becoming Unstoppable
therefineryatx (95 of 7).JPG

Our topic for our upcoming Morning Hustle Storytelling event is "Becoming Unstoppable." We chose this topic to model it around Girls Empowerment Network's (GEN's) 2017-2018 We Are Girls Austin Conferences. The conferences are held in Austin and Houston, Texas annually and are designed especially for thousands of 3rd – 8th grade girls and the adults who care about them. With dynamic break-out sessions and an empowering dance party (ummmm where do we sign up?), girls get to be totally in charge of their day. They walk away inspired by what’s possible and with a new belief in their personal power. The 2017-2018 theme is “Become Unstoppable.” A portion of proceeds from our storytelling event will be put toward this scholarship fund – so while you hear stories on the theme of ‘becoming unstoppable,’ your dollars are headed to help the next generation become unstoppable too.

Becoming unstoppable can mean something different for everyone. Our rules are super easy and minimal: If you wish to apply to be a storyteller at the event you will want to make sure your story somehow relates to the topic and will need to keep your story under 5 minutes long. 

Examples of subjects that reflect on becoming unstoppable: 

  1. Experiencing diversity in the workplace because of your gender, race or age, and how you overcame it 
  2. Pushing the limits of your body - Competing in marathons, iron mans, etc.
  3. Pressing forward after constantly hearing "No" - i.e. How you totally kicked butt at that first sales job out of college
  4. Wearing all the hats and juggling life like a champ
  5. Overcoming your fears and achieving happiness and growth as a result 
  6. Maybe you are still trying to figure out what becoming unstoppable means to you, and that is a story in and of itself :) 

Can't wait to hear what you have to say! Please feel free to reach out to us if you are struggling to really hone in on your topic - We love brainstorming!

Ready to snag your ticket and apply to be a storyteller? CLICK HERE!



Why Storytelling?

Around this exact time last year I bought myself a birthday present - A ticket to the Yellow Conference in Los Angeles. I had always wanted to go to a creative conference (especially one that focused on supporting women) and I had heard rave reviews about this one in particular.  I had always been so inspired by the people I read about speaking at these types of things...How fearless they must have be to get up in front of hundreds of people and share their personal stories. 

My favorite speaker by far was Tim Harris, founder of Tim's Place. His confidence, poise and ability to tell a truly inspiring story filled my soul with joy and an urge to someday work up the courage to do the same. I'm far away from being able to speak in front of hundreds of people but what I can do is start with just 50, then maybe 75 and then someday millions and billions...kidding! Kind of :) 

Tim Harris totally rocking it at the 2016 Yellow Conference in Los Angeles, CA. 

Tim Harris totally rocking it at the 2016 Yellow Conference in Los Angeles, CA. 

I think the having a community of supportive listeners who are eager to hear your story and learn from your experiences can give you the confidence you need to stand up and share.

This is why we are kicking off the first of our Morning Hustle Storytelling series this September. The purpose is the bring together a small group of people who want to support one another in their practice of storytelling and community connection.   

For more details on our first Morning Hustle Storytelling event please visit our events calendar. We will be sharing more on this month's theme, "Becoming Unstoppable," and will be diving into tips of the trade this week here on the blog! 

An Update :: Construction + Photography

Happy Monday Lovelies! I thought I would start the week off by giving an update on construction and showing off a sneak peek into our first photoshoot in our space! Things are in full swing at 612 Brazos with secret build outs under the building coming to life, the juice and coffee bar underway and The Refinery getting cleaned up and ready for HCAV and MEP to be installed. For you construction acronym newbies (no shame - I literally learned these terms about 3 months ago), HVAC means "heating, ventilation and air conditioning" and MEP is "mechanical, engineering and plumbing." Before things really got rolling we wanted to get into the space and have a little photoshoot while it was still beautifully naked.

We paired up with Taylor Prinsen Photography and Mandi Summers to bring a small corner of the upstairs area to life, and boy oh boy did we love the results!

therefineryatx (35 of 35).JPG

A little background on our photographer :: Taylor Prinsen

Taylor Prinsen is a lifestyle and wedding photographer, a native Austinite, and a nonprofit professional. Her degree was in Community and Nonprofit Leadership from The University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she also studied photography and graphic design. Her background in photography has primarily been weddings and families, but has recently enjoyed working with more local brands and bloggers. She loves live music, anything creative, good wine, her crazy puppy, being silly with friends, the show Friends, and traveling.

Website: | Social Media: @TaylorPrinsenPhotography

A little background of our stylist :: Mandi Summers

Mandi Summers is an Austin, Texas, based wardrobe stylist originally from Montana. She has a background in retail fashion buying + management, and has experience styling for commercial, editorial, + still life photography; live shows; advertisements; and music videos. You can find her work in shoots from Austin Monthly, Lux Apothetique, Matrix MX4 and Broke Philosopher Vintage, to name a few!

Website: | Social Media: @MandiSummers

Without Taylor and Mandi this shoot would not have been possible. We also want to give a huge thanks to the rest of our team who got up well before the sun came to knock this shoot out of the park: @Sarahussey_ @ccmoonshine @realaustin @leybach @madifinley

PS The furniture from this shoot (carefully curated by our interior designer, @clairezinnecker) is some of the actual furniture that will be at The Refinery - BEYOND excited to show y'all more!

More updates soon!!