Local coworking and event space, The Refinery, has grown exponentially since it opened its doors in early 2018. In addition to providing members with amazing perks and hosting inspiring events, the space just gives off a “feel-good” vibe.
Hayley Wakefield originally opened the downtown location with the intent to support Austin artists and creatives. As the business’ first year came to a close, Wakefield realized she needed to change focus. She deep-dived into strategic planning for The Refinery’s new direction: becoming a women-only space. She met with over 600 local women between October 2018 and January 2019 to figure out next steps.
Refocused and Stronger Than Ever
Wakefield was thrilled to discover her vision for The Refinery aligned with what local women wanted. The word “coworking” was removed from the company description, allowing Wakefield to reach a larger number of women. Today, members are between the ages of 24 and 65 years old, from all types of industries.
The space went through construction and upgrades in January 2018 to match the new focus of the business. The team removed cubicles and offices from the upstairs coworking area to provide a more open feel. In that space place, The Refinery has created several new rooms.
Feminine and Functional
Wakefield says the new beauty refresh room is probably the prettiest room in the building. It offers women a place to freshen up after a long working day or hitting the gym. The room will soon supply items such as curling irons, dry shampoo, and deodorant for members.
The Refinery will also house a Podcast Studio with two microphones and sound-absorbing walls. It will be home to Wakefield’s upcoming podcast Trash Juice, describing “the real life stuff that happens while running a small business.” But my favorite fact about this room? It’s named after Selena.
Some of the other benefits for members are:
- Tech-charging stations
- Dry-cleaning services
- Lactation room
- Locker room
Wakefield realizes the importance of growing friendships that go beyond networking. In an effort to nurture these relationships and foster the community, she has created cohorts of about 10, carefully-selected women. She provides every member with a short survey containing questions that address what each woman wants to learn, what they can offer others, and even what their favorite cocktail is.
Once the cohort has been put together, each member is provided with phone numbers for everyone in the group. They can text each other when they need professional advice or just want to get together to talk over drinks.
As Wakefield and I discussed, it can be so hard to build friendships as an adult. Everyone is busy with careers or families. That’s why The Refinery’s concept of cohorts is such a beautiful thing. In addition to helping women who are new to Austin find their squad, it brings together women from all walks of life.
Inspiring Programming and Events
The Refinery provides events and programming to members two or three times a week. Some of these events include evening yoga and wine, full panels of inspirational speakers, and cocktail hours. But not all of the events hosted at The Refinery are reserved for members. Anyone can check out the website to view the lineup of events on the calendar, and either register to attend or purchase tickets.
Wakefield tells me one of her favorite parts of the job is hosting and bringing women together. Right off the bat, she was able to get her dream client in the space for SXSW 2018: Create & Cultivate. Since that day, The Refinery has hosted many events that have inspired women to be their best selves.
You can learn more about membership at The Refinery and all of the upcoming events online.
612 Brazos St. – Website
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