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!

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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!!

An Interview :: Madi Finley of Notley

A fantastic perk of having a badass partner in The Refinery is having access to a team of badass people. At Notley, one of those people is Madi Finley and she is a total rockstar. Madi heads up social media and digital marketing for Notley and several of the initiatives that they support. The Refinery would not be possible without the team behind the scenes, which is why I'm excited to highlight each one of the Notley go-getters here on our blog, starting with (drumroll please)...Madi Finley!

                                                                   .   .   .

What was your first job ever?

I was a sales associate at Juicy Couture the summer before heading off to college. Yes, I do have a juicy sweatsuit in almost every color.

What did you study in school?

I studied Fashion Merchandising at LIM College in New York City. I wanted to be an in-house stylist for a fashion magazine. Living in New York provided me the opportunity to intern for many fashion magazines, stylists and couture brands.

What brought you to Austin, Texas? What is your favorite thing about the city?

I grew up outside of Dallas, so I had spent time in Austin as a kid. Then, I went to ACL 2 years ago and stayed with my sister who is a student at the University of Texas, that’s when I realized this city is so dope! I was ready to move out of NYC and Austin was the perfect cross section of city living, nature, music, art and awesome food.

Tell us a bit about what your current role at Notley and how you help with social media for The Refinery.

I work for Notley as the digital media coordinator and social media management is a big part of my role. The Refinery has had the unique ability to cultivate a community of strong and creative entrepreneurs through social media and events. I love thinking through how we can continue to engage those who attend our events a merge our digital and real world communities!

Photo by Madi Finley | June's All Day for The Refinery

Photo by Madi Finley | June's All Day for The Refinery

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the variety that my job offers and that I get to touch each part of the process. The Notley team is small and tenacious, and everyday is different.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into social media management?

Start by experimenting. I feel confident that everyone reading this has a social media presence. Start experimenting on your personal accounts and find what works. Not everyone has to be a fashion blogger. In fact, the more authentic the better! If you want to work as in social media, you won’t be hired off of your follower count. Develop an idea of how the consumer brain works. What visual elements are interesting to you? What makes you click on a Facebook ad? Questions like that will get you thinking more creatively and lead to more engagement.

Photo by Madi Finley | The Refinery summer shoot at June's All Day on South Congress.

Photo by Madi Finley | The Refinery summer shoot at June's All Day on South Congress.

Describe your average morning routine. What keeps you motivated to hop out of bed and slay? joke.

For someone who prefers to be creative, I love to see the success of a social campaign in numbers. If we posted a blog or video the night before, I spend the morning tracking metrics and use that data to inform future campaigns and posts.

What is your favorite taco in the city? Favorite cocktail?

I will start with cocktails because that’s an easy one. I love The Queen Bee and Shiva’s Gold from Whisler’s. Also, anything with cucumber, cayenne or mezcal. I do breakfast tacos at least 3 times a week, mostly from Chilitos on the East side, but I also love the chicken taco from Lazarus.

What is the one thing in your closet that you just cannot live without?  

There was an incredible thrift store across from one of my old apartments in New York. I walked in one day and found a vintage silk robe with a 70s fan pattern on it. I imagine in a past life that it belonged to socialite from the Upper East Side who spent her nights at Studio 54. I just like to wear it as duster coat and might turn it into a dress one day.

Describe your ideal work environment - What are the elements that really get your creative juices flowing??

I like having variety. Being surrounded by other creative thinkers is crucial, but I need space to sit down and knock out work by myself, too. I am also a big collector of coffee table books and magazines. I haven't thrown away a single magazine since 2011, and when I need a creative boost I will look at an old issue of V Magazine or flip through one of my books about handmade furniture from Brooklyn.

Million dollar question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I will either be living in Austin, or Hawaii and will definitely have a little puppy by my side! I would still love to be working in the social media world because it is so unpredictable. In 5 years Instagram will probably be irrelevant and there will be a whole new crop of social platforms.

Fall Internships at The Refinery!

Internships at The Refinery | Fall 2017


We are excited to let y'all know that we are on the search for some stellar interns for Fall 2017 :: Check out the opportunities below and apply by filling out the corresponding form. We can't wait to get to know you! 



Marketing & Events Intern | Tasks to include: 

  • Social & digital media marketing

  • Blogging 

  • Event production

  • More!


Sales & Partnerships Intern | Tasks to include:

  • Membership lead generation

  • Membership community management

  • Lead hard hat tours 

  • More!


Creative Meets Business Experience 2017

Happy Monday Y'all! I wanted to kick off this week by helping to spread the word about a seriously inspiring (and very useful) event launching here in Austin this September. First, a little background on how I came to learn about this fabulous event: 

A major goal at The Refinery is not only to bring together like-minded creatives but also to serve as a space filled with the educational resources needed to make them a success. When I set out to see what sort of tools and organizations already existed I quickly stumbled upon Creative Meets Business, run by the highly inspirational Ashland Viscosi.

Ashland and I instantly hit it off with what seemed to be endless commonalities and goals. My favorite thing that we share? A desire to educate freelancers and small business owners on the importance of financial sustainability, engaging in meaningful networking and collaborations, and really honing in on what it means to thrive as a creative business. (We also share a love for the show iZombie but that's a whole different blog post!) 

I'm thrilled to share more information on Ashland's newest endeavor: The Creatives Meet Business Experience (CMBXP for short)! 

Nobody can talk about this experience like the creator herself: "We’ve all attended conferences and events where we sit in the room and diligently take notes (or scroll through our twitter feeds), listening to amazing tales of entrepreneurial or creative woe. After the tales of glory and “how I built this” have worn off and you’re sitting on your couch, do you go back through those notes that you worked so hard to take? Be honest, how much have you put into practice from that type of conference? We hear you, that’s why we’re doing something different. We’re not doing panels. We’re creating three days of programming with hands-on, interactive workshops to help you tackle everything in real-time

We care about three main things: collaboration over competition, helping you become economically sustainable, and expanding your network with fellow creatives. To give you the best experience possible, four programming partners (Austin LearnshopCreatives Meet BusinessGeneral Assembly, and Story Bar) have joined forces to bring you a variety of over 40 workshops focusing on the artistic side, the business-side, the marketing side, and the storytelling side of being a creative. We’ll have one-on-one mentorships available, and with nightly happy hours to boot, you won’t want to miss this experience."

So how do you tackle this elephant of an “experience”? One bite at a time! You can à la carte your own professional development plate from a variety of menu options, your day could include: learning how to craft a business budget with The Art of Finance, cracking into the Nutshell Technique with The Screenplay Workshop, Social Media Strategy Mapping with Best Practice Media, and end with high-flying fun with Sky Candy - the sky's the limit."

Ummm....yes please!!! 

Invest in yourself (did I mention it’s only $100?!) and see what Creatives Meet Business and partners have cooked up :: Be sure to snag your ticket before they are sold out!

An Interview :: Anastasia Casey of The Identite Collective

I will never forget the first time I met Anastasia Casey. We were meeting at The Driskill Hotel to talk about The Refinery - I had just sat down with my coffee when she walked in with the brightest glow you've ever seen. She also happened to be baring gifts - a candle and beautifully written note on her beautifully designed stationery. (Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a sucker for yummy candles and pretty stationery.) I knew we were going to be friends!

I recently had the fortune of working with Anastasia and her team at The Identite Collective to develop The Refinery's brand and overall feel.

I am excited to share an interview with the founder of the company that made The Refinery's branding look oh so fresh and clean - World, meet Anastasia!


What was your first job ever?

I was a host at an Argentinean steakhouse in a fun neighborhood of Orange County.

 What did you study in school?

I went to a private art school in San Francisco (founded by the editor of Sunset Magazine!). My major was Advertising and I minored in Graphic Design. It was literally the best part of my education - we got to try all kinds of different mediums and learned so many technical schools. I left school feeling so prepared for a real “job” when so many of my friends were struggling to find work after the 2008 market crash.

What brought you to Austin, Texas? What is your favorite thing about the city?

My (then boyfriend, now husband) Quinn and I were living in Union Square of San Francisco and outgrew our apartment, and rent had outgrown our bank accounts. We didn’t want to live in the suburbs, so we picked a new city to move to that was more affordable. Our two choices were Austin and Nashville - I just happened to get a job offer in Austin first.

My favorite thing about Austin is the people. I’ve lived in 9 cities and nowhere compares to the level of genuine, gracious, friendly and welcoming people in Austin. Being surrounded by people of that caliber, truly transforms your quality of life.

What did you do before started The Identite Collective? Walk us through what brought you to create this beauty of a company!

I had been the Director of Marketing at a luxury real estate brokerage here in Austin. It was such a dreamy experience because my boss was so open to creativity and ingenuity, we were really doing things beyond industry standards. After three years, I had maxed out my earning potential, but more importantly, my creative potential with the company.

I had already been designing websites for brands around town, and I had seen the struggle that so many creative entrepreneurs face around building luxury lifestyle brands on conservative budgets. I wanted to take what I had learned in corporate marketing, fine tune it, and apply it to small businesses.

My passion lies in helping female entrepreneurs work to build their own dreams, not someone else's. So using my skills learned in 10 years of corporate marketing and design, I began creating bespoke brands for interior designers, beauty professionals, lifestyle and travel brands.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love creating my own schedule. Honestly,  my brain goes full ADD mode between 1 and 3pm every day, so I use that time to clean house, run errands, and prep dinner. And I like working late at night, I’m most creative then and can accomplish so much in 2 hours of late night working.

I’ve made travel a priority in my life right now before Quinn and I have kids,and the flexibility of my job let’s me do that, without ever having to take “time off”. I work 3 months out of the year from San Francisco, and spent a month working from Spain this spring.

But honestly, I LOVE being in full control of my own income. It’s kind of a crazy thought to look back and think, someone had put a numerical value on my worth of an entire year’s worth of work. And aside from a bonus, or potential raise, that number was firm. It is so EMPOWERING to know that you are in control of your pricing and how many clients you take.

Describe your average morning routine. What keeps you motivated to hop out of bed and slay?

When I started my business, I would wake up and lie in bed checking emails and responding to Instagram comments. Then I’d walk the whole 20 steps to my office and sit down and start working. That meant my day was literally 18+ hours of screen time. Gross.

So recently, I made some changes. Now I wake up, leave my phone on airplane mode, take our rescue pup Kennedy for a walk through Hyde Park to grab coffee. I come back, make the bed (this prevents me from mid-day nap temptation), and tidy up the rest of the house. By tackling all my chores before 8:30, I limit the number of distractions I face during the day.

What is your favorite breakfast taco in the city?

It’s technically a breakfast burrito, but it is my favorite meal in Austin. Get the Burnet Road Burrito from Taco Shack, but substitute black beans for the eggs. You end up with bacon, beans, cheese and potatoes wrapped up in heaven.

What is the one thing in your closet that you just cannot live without?  

 A white shirt dress.

Describe your ideal work environment - What are the elements that really get your creative juices flowing??

I really love bright natural light because my old office at my corporate job was literally in a closet with no windows. I need a clean desk, an extra monitor and some sort of house plant. Because I need someone to talk to throughout the day, obviously.

Million dollar question: Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?

In five years I plan to have three or four employees to help with coding and web development, file formatting in InDesign, and client relations. We’ll have a private studio for us to work and photograph in. I imagine we will have started our family by then, and I’ll have condensed my work week to three days. Oh - what a dream!

What one piece of advice would you offer to someone looking to launch a branding/design studio of their own?

Don’t wait. A branding and web design studio takes virtually no overhead cost. All you need is your laptop. Learn as you go. There is never going to be the perfect time to launch your business, but today sounds a lot better than three years from now.

Connect with The Identite Collective! | @theidentitecollective

Hayley Swindell