My favorite time of the year!


Can you believe summer has come and gone? It’s a little surreal just how quickly summer flew by. We are now two weeks into the school year and I am finally getting a routine down at home and at the shop!

Fall brings a whole new kind of busy to the stores which we love! With a new season comes a new wardrobe and the need for a little redecorating at home to get you in the mood for the change. Today Makenna and I spent our day watching football with  dad and the boys  while staging a little Fall decor to share with you all.

The thought of transitioning your home from season to season can be daunting so we thought it would be fun to share with you just how simple a few new pieces can change the entire look of your home while being able to keep those staple pieces in tact year round.

Here’s a look a few before photos.

 

Here are now a few photos with a few new pieces from The Refinery incorporated into some of our staple pieces that help transition a home from that fresh summer look to now that cozy Fall look we all love so much!

 

  • As you can see we didn’t add much to help transition from one season to the next but what we did add made a big impact and completely transformed the look! All of the pieces we incorporated into this transition can be found in store! Along with so many other fun options to help you complete that special look you are going for. As you can see I have the best little helper!
    and of course the silliest little boys! But the best part of the whole day was definitely teaching Makenna my little trick after a long day while the boys were off at soccer practice… Order take out, put in our own containers, throw away the evidence, and own it! As you can see she thought it was just as funny as her momma!!Wondering now how to transition that wardrobe of yours?! No worries, we have you covered there also! Going LIVE Thursday evening to share some fun facts about how to perfectly transition your wardrobe! 


May your week be filled with cool weather, a trip to see us, smooth transitions, and of course take out

 

Xoxo

Ashleigh

 

Small town, BIG hearts

I Hi Sitting here writing this post and I can’t help but laugh to myself. I came over to the New prague store this afternoon to do some prepping and planning for this weekends big 1 year anniversary and somehow managed to get locked outside  of the store. Currently awaiting a lock smith to arrive  and reflecting on how this couldn’t be a more perfect scenario to describe  this last year. A year full of unexpected surprises and many firsts!

When I made the decision to expand to New Prague I knew instantly that I was going to love being apart of this sweet little town, but never in a million years did I imagine just how much I truly would fall in love with this town or how big of an impact this expansion would have on me both personally and professionally.

I remember being about 20 weeks pregnant with Callan at the time we signed the lease repeating the quote in my head..  “You will only regret the chances you didn’t take.” I felt at peace with our decision and trusted our journey and from there the rest was history!

Our 1st year in New Prague has been nothing short of amazing! From the people throughout the community , our customers and the fellow business owners (HUGE shout out to The New Prague Shops on Main group! Thank you for all you do and for always bringing the fun out of us all at each planned event!) Each and every person we have had the pleasure to meet this past year has made such an impact on us.  New Prague welcomed us with open arms and continues to surprise us week after week and we couldn’t be more thankful.

This expansion wouldn’t have been possible without my vendors, staff, or my family! I always say it takes a village and I’m so proud of the village we have here at The Refinery! Special shout out to Hannah our New Prague store manager who goes above and beyond whenever she can! I know many of you have grown to love and appreciate her just as much as we do! Also a big thank you to Jodi and Kim for all you do to contribute to the success of the store!

This week we are excited to celebrate this milestone with you and we hope you will join us! Thursday & Friday we will have new releases, sales throughout the store, drawings and more! Realia by Jen will also be joining us Friday for a special trunk show throughout the day! On Saturday we will continue the festivities but with a bang! We will have tons of sales throughout the store, drawings, treats, refreshments, kids activities, new arrivals both vendor and clothing and our outside lawn filled with the best deals and steals of the summer.

I can’t begin to thank you  enough for the support and encouragement you have shown us since the day we opened! With any business there are highs and lows, ups and downs, lessons learned and everything in between, but I can honestly say throughout it all I am so happy to have trusted my gut and took the chance in New Prague! We have had the opportunity to welcome 4,832 customers in this short time period as a 3 day a week store and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings! I can’t promise perfection but I can promise you another year of fun, growth, creativity, and a special experience each time you walk through our door!

 

 

XOXO

Ashleigh

 

 

 

Hello Summer!

Can you believe June is already over and that it is 4th of July weekend? What an eventful month it has been! We have been busy busy between keeping up with the stores and the crazy yet fun demands of keeping up with the kiddos and their summer activities. This month alone we have managed to celebrate two birthdays/parties (Jack turning 6 on June 8th and Callan turning 1 on June 9th) 2 weeks of swimming lessons, 5 softball games and practices, T ball practices, a car accident, Summer at the DQ, 3 pop ups, welcoming new vendors, our 1st traveling market, store transitions, prepping and planning for Fall/Winter, and all the dynamics that come along with all the craziness above! We are camping this weekend but I had a quick hour to sneak in a new blog post while the littles nap.

We have so many new followers but some of you may remember this time last year when we were updating you all via a facebook post that our son Callan Joe was born at 26 weeks weighing 1 lb 13oz. Your encouraging words, special visits to the store, and many of your thoughts and prayers is what helped get our family through that 12 weeks hospital stay!. Callan has beaten all the odds and is doing so great!  This year has gone by so incredibly fast and we are so blessed to have such a happy and healthy little boy who has brought so much joy to our life.

And we  couldn’t forget our awesome now 6 year old Jack!

On the store side of things we have had lots of fun and exciting things take place this month. We have welcomed two new vendors into the store.. Lark & Owl kids, a fun creative play kids line and Meyer Signworks who will be offering a few of their customized pieces throughout our St. Peter  and New Prague locations.

This summer we have kept things lightweight, casual yet classy,  and fun! We have been trying out new vendors for some of our staple pieces and ordering in samples from  some of the new  vendors we plan to carry this Fall/Winter. Fall is my absolute favorite season and I can’t wait for you to see everything we have planned for this upcoming season. We have been working on a new fun project with two new brand reps that I am really excited about. We will be offering capsule wardrobes online and in store that  I plan to share more about in just a few more weeks. It has turned into such an amazing project that I know many of you will love. For those of you not familiar with a capsule wardrobe, here is a little snapshot.

Yes, those of you that always feel like you never know what to wear or how to style things without making it too complicated, this is for you!

A staple this summer has been t shirt dresses. We can’t order them fast enough it seems! This is one of my favorite styles we have received to date.

Midi Dresses have also been another big hit this summer!

Our home and gift selection in store also continues to grow! Along with my passion of interior decorating and design. Some of you have asked if we are beginning to go into more of a home decor and gift direction versus clothing and the answer is no. We still plan to offer clothing, home decor, gifts, and MORE! When we first opened The Refinery we primarily had home decor, unique finds , clothing, and accessories. As we have grown over the short year and a half we have added in additional items and expanded  greatly in other areas.  It truly has turned into a fun one stop shop. You can purchase an outfit for yourself, a gift for someone else, or  a piece or two of  home decor to add that special touch in your home. As we continue to plan for the upcoming expansion we will have more of a divided area between clothing and the home decor, gifts, and more side. Giving one entire side (Roughly 1200 square feet) dedicated just to clothing and accessories! We will have the ability to offer 8-10X’s more the amount of clothing than  we currently have in store which I know many of you are just as excited as we are about as we are.

OK, Family craziness, store fun, new vendors, store expansion, and of course THE TRAVELING MARKET!

A few months ago I had a vision of what it would possibly be like to travel to rural communities within Minnesota and host a traveling market. We would open it up to other local makers and vendors and provide a fun retail shopping experience to local communities that maybe don’t have as much of a downtown shopping district as some.  A few weeks ago we were able to make this happen and host our 1st ever Refinery Traveling Market in Lake Crystal, MN and lets just say my heart is FULL!! Weeks leading up to the event I was a nervous wreck. The thoughts kept running through my mind. What if no one comes? What if it rains? What if we forget something? Do we have enough of this? Do we have enough of that?  Let’s just say sleep was little and I am fairly certain I could have owned stock in coffee that week!

The day came and everything went smoother than I could have ever imagined! Lake Crystal and their community welcomed us with open arms, the weather was perfect, our vendors outdid themselves with their gorgeous booths and products they offered throughout the event, and guess what? My biggest fear of no one showing up was quickly laid to rest! People showed up from all over! The tent was hoping right at 8am that morning and consistently steady all throughout the day. Some driving as far as Shakopee, Jordan, Belle Plain, Hutchinson, Jackson, the list goes on. . A big  goal of ours when hosting these markets was that it also drew new customers to the local businesses within the towns we are in. I recently had a store owner from Lake Crystal share with me that the market brought tons  of new customers to her store that day and that is truly what events like this are all about. Sharing the love for the Refinery while also supporting and promoting those around you. As I sat in bed writing out our  thank you’s to our vendors the other night and  I couldn’t help by tear up (Yes, such a sensitive girl at heart!) Without them this event wouldn’t have been possible and for that I will forever be grateful! I say it over and over and I may be bias but we truly have the most amazing customers in the world! No matter what crazy ideas we may come up with, you are there to support us and follow our journey every step of the way. We have a couple more traveling markets coming  up this summer and are still accepting vendors. For more information please send email to therefinerymn@gmail.com!

I hear giggles and a few footsteps coming from the camper which means the gang is up from nap time and its time for me to log off.  I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far with family and friends and that you have a safe and Happy 4th of July!

XOXO

Ashleigh

 

 

 

 

A letter from Sara….. In honor of Catherine

If you walked into The Refinery and looked around amongst many of our vendors you will have seen a vendor by the name of Rustique Living. This particular vendor makes  a lot of signs throughout all of our locations. All of which are handmade and done so with the utmost love. Nate & Sara Olson are the owners and creators of Rustique Living. Sara and I met through a mutual friend many years ago. We lost touch for a few years but then reunited when  Sara had her 2nd child Lucas premature and ended up having to spend numerous months in the NICU. . I was the NICU Family Support Specialist at the time, at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. It was my job to provide support to families who were going through the NICU more so from a former parent perspective. I worked hand in hand with the hospital and the March of Dimes during this time. Throughout the months of Sara’s families stay, I checked in on them often and will always remember the love and compassion her and Nate both had when I would peak in on them and see them staring a Lucas. I would run into Sara & Nate in the elevator in passing some nights and she always had a smile on her face, even though as a former NICU parent myself I knew the intense physical and emotional stress she was going through.  I prayed for her family and all of the families I worked with every night before I went to bed. Every family I met made an impact on my life in some way shape or form but little did I know how much of an impact this family would have on me..

Many of you know Nate & Sara Olson and the beautiful work behind Rustique Living, but there are many of you that don’t know the Olson’s story.A story that Sara has chosen to share with all of us and how this month is 100 % dedicated to Catherine. A little girl who is maybe no longer here with us but loved and missed by many.  See below..

A letter from Sara…

The Refinery has been an amazing opportunity for my husband and me as vendors in so many ways, but the most impactful thing about being a vendor at The Refinery has been the new family that came along with it.  Ashleigh is one of the kindest, most caring, and supportive people I have ever met.  When she asked me if we would be interested in selling our signs at her New Prague location last summer, I don’t know if she realized how impeccable her timing was or that she was actually saving me…

My husband and I lost our daughter, Catherine, last June at one week old due to complications during birth.  She was our third child and we were so excited for her to complete our family with her big brother, Lucas, and her big sister, Aubrey.  We never expected the outcome that played out in those seven days; Lucas had been a 23-week micro-preemie miracle boy who had defied all odds.  I was 36 weeks pregnant with Catherine and so proud I had been able to carry her for that long.  Ashleigh approached me a few weeks after we lost Catherine and said, “No pressure, but I have an offer for you!”  I was so thrilled to gladly accept her offer.  I’m the type of person who handles the trials and tribulations that I’m faced with, by pouring my heart and soul into the things I love.  One of the many things that I love to do is to make pretty things.  Nathan and I have been making signs and decor for over two years now, and it has been such a gratifying hobby!  This past year, however, it has been so much more than a hobby for me–It’s become my therapy.  Designing, creating, and seeing beautiful ideas come to life with my own twist on them has been cathartic and The Refinery has provided me an outlet to do what I love with a purpose–to make pretty things for people to hang in their living room, or to decorate their nursery as they anxiously await the arrival of their new bundle of joy, or to give to someone as the perfect gift.

Losing Catherine is the worst thing that has ever happened to us, but we are continually searching for the purpose behind the tragedy: What are we supposed to do as a result of this experience?  As we continue to seek that purpose, we find it important to honor Catherine and her memory.  We’re approaching her first birthday, and while we’re planning a very non-traditional first birthday celebration surrounded by our family and friends, we’d also like to find a way to give back.

Catherine had a whirlwind entrance to the world four hours from home and spent her brief life living at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI.  I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful or equipped hospital to meet Catherine’s and our needs during that blur of a week.  One of the most impactful things for us during our stay was The Ronald McDonald House which was located inside the hospital and provided us with meals, a place to sleep, do laundry, cry, make phone calls, pray, and anything else we could have needed.  We are so grateful for this organization and would like to give back in Catherine’s memory; all of our profits from signs sold at The Refinery during the month of June will be donated to The Ronald McDonald House in Madison, WI in her memory.  What can you do to help?  Buy yourself or someone you know a cute new sign!  Easy, right?!  Thank you to our customers for your continuous support of our small business!  And thank you to The Refinery for your continued love and support!  We couldn’t do this without you!

The “Juggle” is Real

5 kids, multiple stores, Dairy Queen, 4-5 healthcare appointments a week, kid activities, store events, ordering, buying, bookwork, reports, meal times, summer schedules, staffing, training, blogging, marketing, projects, constantly changing and evolving , growing pains… just a few of the things we have going on day in and day out . We are often asked “How do we do it?’ What’s the secret? Do you have time to sleep? I laugh because I look at  my girlfriend with two children, is a stay at home mom,  a husbands who travel, kids in numerous activites, and wonder often to myself how does she do it. Everyone has their own busy, chaotic, shit show (sorry not sorry) of a life. We all just maybe handle it a little differently than others.

Most of the time I never really know how to answer these questions but have spent a lot of time reflecting on these questions recently. Parenthood came a little different for us than some..  Parenthood actually came with a bang.  Not only did we find out we were being blessed with twins but we were also being blessed with two of the most amazing miracles that would change our lives forever in a way neither of us would have ever imagined. Due to the complications of our pregnancy our very first decision we had to make as parents was, We can either choose to delivery both babies 3 months premature  with hopes that both of them would survive but that no matter what they would likely be  faced with numerous  disabilities and potentially poor quality of life OR we could choose to allow baby B to pass away (Our little Christopher) in utero at 21 weeks and continue our pregnancy to term with baby A (Our Miss Makenna) and we had roughly a few hours to decide. I remember being wheeled down to the NICU from our antepartum room prior to making our decision and being  introduced to a family who was going through something very similar but their daughter was already born. The little girl’s name was Piper and I will never forget looking at her mom Erin thinking How Is she doing this? How is she so strong? At that point in our life I knew nothing would ever be the same. Making that decision was the hardest thing we have ever had to do. We took a risk based on our faith and our love for our unborn children and knew no matter what we decided it was all in gods hands at that point. Here we were first time parents feeding our kids through feeding tubes, doing trach changes, shuffling oxygen, ventilators, and monitors around our house (trying to make sure we didn’t trip over the cords) seriously the “juggle” was real.

Baby B (Christopher) & Baby A (Makenna)

As the years went on life just got busier. The kids had anywhere from 10-12 appointments a week between doctors appointments, PT, OT, and Speech therapy visits. Our family grew unexpectedly and our careers took a different turn than we had once expected. Life happened and we somehow just managed to roll with it. We were constantly going a million miles a minute, making sure everyone was taking care of,  that we maintained our work commitments, and found a new sense of normal.. A normal no one could have really prepared us for but a normal that we once were now able to settle into and build a life around. A life determined to be filled with the same love and strength that got us through thus far.

I wanted our children to see and know that no matter what circumstances you edeavour its never too late to adjust your sails and start fresh. My goals and ambitions I had for myself changed  once I had children. Although they had changed I was determined to still pursue my dreams even though they looked a little different than once planned. Kind of like my first pregnancy.   I compare much of the Refinery’s story to how our family began to where it is now.  A tiny miracle that through hard work and perseverance has evolved into a beautiful thing.  Although it’s not perfect and our home life and personal life can be a total  shit show (sorry not sorry )  some days we make it work. I lean on the inspiration from those around me and those from afar. To my neighbor down the street who inspires me with her daily facebook posts and is chasing her dreams day in and day out, to my dear friend whos fiancé is going through chemo, to my sister who sends me daily snaps of all the healthy eating she does, to each and every woman out there juggling life between kids, work and basically life in general you are all amazing! So to answer your question on how you do it or how I got started.. The secret answer is Baby A & Baby B followed by 3, 4 5. My reasons why and forever my drive and determination to be better each and every day!

XOXO

Ashleigh