With growth comes change…

 

With growth comes change and WOW have we experienced a crazy amount of both within the last 2.5 years. We went from a family of 6 to a family of 7, opened 4 new stores, merchandised an additional 3, completed over 50+ offsite pop up events, hosted over 100 in store events, and have loved every minute of it. Now don’t get me wrong although there have been many highs, there have also been many lows. In the small business world, you learn to love the lows just as much as you love the highs. The seasons of it all are truly what I have learned to appreciate the most. The tough times have taught me to always appreciate the good times and always strive to do/be better and the good times have taught me to appreciate the journey along the way while celebrating the little successes each and every day.

I am a low risk kind of girl with big dreams! As we have expanded The Refinery from St. Peter, I wasn’t quite sure where this journey would take us but knew I wanted to test the waters and expand into other communities. When doing so we entered short term leases (1 year-1.5 years) to allow us the capabilities to test the waters but also allow us time to get to know the communities, and overall make sure each of the locations we did open were a good fit for both The Refinery and the communities we were a part of. But of course, … All short-term leases come to an end.

Prior to resigning we really used this time to look at our overall business model and evaluate where we see The Refinery going from here, while also looking at customer demands and feedback, family life (You guys know I am all about family first), long term growth, and so on. With that being said we have made a few key changes to a few of our locations that we wanted to share:

Waseca:  We will be closing our Waseca location effective Saturday March 17th. Waseca has been a fun adventure for us but due to the change in business structure (Moving from 3 day a week locations to all locations being 5-7 day a week locations) we have decided to close our Waseca location. We have been extremely grateful for the time we have had in Waseca and the staff and customers who have been with us from the beginning.

New Prague: The hotel location we have been in has officially SOLD/Leased again. This time we are making a move with this change. We will be moving our New Prague location down the street to a more permanent home in the former Prairie Pond Winery location. We are UBER excited about this change as it will really allow us to make this special place a home. With more space (indoor & outdoor) we have big plans for this new space and can’t wait to share more as things evolve. As of right now our plan is to be fully moved and relocated by 4/7.

St. Peter: Many of you know we took on the additional space in St. Peter mid Fall and have loved making it our own. With my husband being in the ice cream business we have always dreamt of ways we would be able to incorporate his passion and expertise as we continue to create that special Refinery experience throughout various locations. It has been a long time in the making, but we have received state plan approval and will begin the transition of a portion of our St. Peter store to a hard scoop Ice Cream shop! Our vision with this side of the store is to be able to come in and enjoy a sweet treat, old pops and candy, gifts, and our love for all things Minnesota.  We hope to have this set up and ready to go late Spring and look forward to bringing this concept to the downtown St. Peter area.

Minneapolis: Everything is in motion and we are hoping to be open by early to mid-April!

In our household we try to end our days with recapping our highs and our lows, and this post was definitely filled with a few of each.

The highs:

  • Effective the week of 4/9 all locations we will be expanding our hours at each location.
    • St. Peter (7 Days a week- No Change)
    • New Prague (Tuesday-Saturday)
    • Chaska (Tuesday-Saturday)
    • Minneapolis (Tuesday-Saturday)
  • We will be adding a new experience to a portion of our St. Peter store (Ice Cream)
  • We will be relocating our New Prague location down the block to the old Prairie Pond Winery space. Creating a new experience with the original Refinery feel.

Lows:

  • The closing of our Waseca location. This was such a tough decision for me and one that has weighed on me heavily. This decision was 100% made based upon overall logistics and where we see our overall business going. Our Waseca customers have been nothing short of amazing and I truly thank you for an incredible year.  I thank each and every one of you in the Waseca community and the surrounding communities that have shopped our Waseca location. Our Waseca doors will officially close to the public Saturday March 17th.

Growth is good and change is hard and although I don’t have a crystal ball, I am confident in the direction we continue to head in and look forward to continuing this journey with you! Thank you for your continued support and growing and changing with us along the way!

Ashleigh

 

Ashleigh

 

Hey Hey Minneapolis!

We are almost to the weekend my friends! Last week we shared some pretty exciting news via social media and assured you details were to follow. Yes, it’s true we are opening a new store in South Minneapolis and couldn’t be more excited!

You may be thinking another one? This girl is crazy. I like to think of it as driven (Crazy was when my husband and I decided to have 5 children in 6 years.. but of course a good crazy!). I have always had it in the back of my mind of wanting to explore the metro area. We have customers who come down often to our various locations from the Minneapolis area but knew it all had to make sense. I didn’t want to rush into anything that was way over our head and I wanted to make sure the location fit our business model but again wasn’t necessarily in the 1-2 year plan but more the 3-4 year plan… But then I received a call…

One of the most remarkable things about my journey with The Refinery has truly been the relationships formed throughout the last few years. The individuals I have met along the way who share a very similar drive and focus but also those who see a big picture and most importantly those who believe in not only me but the dreams I have not just  for myself, but for the community, the individuals who work for us, and everything else in between. That call came from someone who has played a vital role in the growth of not just The Refinery but also many businesses throughout the communities we serve. The call presented me with the opportunity of expanding our business in a way that made sense, was affordable, and most importantly provided the experience that The Refinery looks for in each of the locations it serves. It may not have been in the timeline I had imagined but the days following that call.. Everything and I mean everything fell into place.

A little about our new space! One of the most incredible pieces about our new location is that we will be connected to the beautiful Harriet’s Inn Restaurant. A gorgeous restaurant located at 4000 lyndale Ave S. Just a few blocks away from the 50th and France area, Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and the uptown area. As I have always said it is so important to me to provide an experience to all of those who shop our different location(s) and this location is one of a kind. You will be able to dine indoors or on their beautiful patio right outside of our front door, shop, and take in the beautiful surrounding area. We hope to host ladies nights, live music, group events, and so much more in collaboration with this beautiful space and restaurant next door. Since announcing we have been asked to be a part of so many neat and unique twin cities events which I look forward to sharing more with you as time gets a little closer. We are shooting for an opening date of late March 2018!

 

(Everyone loves a good patio in the summer!)

(A tiny look into one side of the store)

I have learned throughout time that life is truly about seizing the opportunities that are presented. I have learned often to trust my gut but most importantly to follow my heart. These two things have lead The Refinery to Minneapolis and I can’t wait to share this journey with you! In the mean time… Head back to our Facebook page to enter our exciting shop and dine giveaway! 

 

 

 

 

Home

When I first moved to Waseca, I knew no one. I had heard of the town once before when a former student had moved from there but I had to quickly google it to see where it was in Minnesota. I never knew I would find myself calling it home one day and I sure as heck didn’t expect to find an amazing company like The Refinery to work for in this small town.

My story doesn’t start in Waseca though, it starts in a small town three hours straight west of the Twin Cities where I began my first teaching job as a 7th, 8th and 9th grade social studies teacher. This is where I met the love of my life, Brandon. He was my “mentor” teacher and I knew from day one he would one day be my husband. Hey, a girl should get what she wants right?! He was also a social studies teacher and we spent four years living and working together in this small town. We created our life there and loved our students as if they were our own kids. We spent so much time as the school that it just became a part of us. From late nights grading papers, early mornings opening the weight room for our student athletes to weekends spent coaching at tournaments it was our life and we loved it. Eventually, we became engaged and realized that we wanted a new challenge in our lives so we quit our jobs at the end of the school year and terminated our apartment lease. We had no new jobs lined up, no place to live and we were getting married in 27 days. Anxiety started to set in, but hey… at least we had each other.

Things worked themselves out and we both landed jobs in two school districts we absolutely love. I accepted a job in Medford and Brandon in Wells. Now, we just needed to find a place to live. I started looking online at houses and found that Waseca would be a great halfway point for the both of us but nothing caught our eyes with the homes that were for sale. I reached out to a relator anyways and she met with us on a Saturday two weeks before our wedding. We only looked at 4 houses and we were starting to think maybe we should just rent. But then she brought us to the last one that was having an open house that day. We walked up to the screened-in porch, looked at each other and knew we were home.

That summer we got married, traveled to 16 different states on our road trip honeymoon (perks of both being teachers is you get to travel together in the summers), moved into our new home and the best part… we found out we were going to be parents that April! After the panic of becoming a mom settled I started to embrace this new adventure. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but once you see those two pink lines… shit gets real.
One of the only things that would make my morning sickness better, was taking long walks outside. Fresh air does wonders people! One night, we were walking on the main street in Waseca and I saw one of the stores had brown paper in the windows. I knew it hadn’t been like that the day before so now I was intrigued. There was a little sign on the outside of the window that said “Future home of The Refinery.” So, like any normal person would do, I got onto Facebook and started creeping. I started reading previous posts from this store and kept seeing this curly haired women with 5 kids. I laughed to myself and thought “that’s not real life, no one is actually crazy enough to have 5 kids and own multiple stores.” Boy, was I wrong. I messaged the owner, Ashleigh, and told her I had just moved into the town of Waseca and was looking for a weekend job to make a little extra money. She set up an interview and hired me! I was so excited to work around adults and not hormonal teenagers for a change. I loved it from the start. Everything Ashleigh and The Refinery stood for, I admired. She involves her family is every aspect possible with the stores and brings the kiddos everywhere with her.

Once I had our daughter Reagan, she also came with me to the store that summer to work at The Refinery. This allowed me to bond even more with our customers. SO many of our customers are mothers and I found myself having this instant connection with other moms. It was like my eyes were open to this whole new world I never knew existed called motherhood. I could ask a new mom 3 minutes after she walked into the store with her baby strapped to her chest (clearly just getting out of the house for the first time in weeks) how breast feeding was going, which brand of laundry detergent worked best for blowout stains and giving her the heads up that nipple cream was on sale at Target that week with zero awkwardness. All of a sudden it was like I had a new college bestie every time a mother walked through the door and we were just catching up and exchanging our birth stories. Motherhood is truly this unspoken bond that you just can’t explain … until you join the club.

The Refinery gave me this new network of mom’s to laugh, cry and vent to with. Working at the store was also a game changer for me because I was starting to feel less like an outsider, and more like I belonged here in Waseca. This was all because of The Refinery! I was able to be a mom, yet work to make some extra money for our little family plus meet people from the community in the process. Our regular customers became a part of Reagan’s life and are constantly asking me how she is doing, is she walking yet, what her favorite food is and if I was on outfit number three or four of the day for myself from being spit up on. I truly couldn’t ask for a better second job than The Refinery that is so family oriented and flexible. I have created so many new friends through this company and get to work a long side some pretty bad ass women. The Refinery has provided me with so much more than just a job, it’s given me a new home – both here at the store and in Waseca.

 

Liz-

Hello 2018.. A New Year

It’s here… The New Year! A new year full of wonder, growth, new opportunities,  new challenges and so much more.  I feel like it was just yesterday that I was recapping 2016 and sharing the endless ideas and plans I had for 2017.  2017 was such a great year.

It was a year full of many new adventures, tremendous growth, new relationships, and so much more! I have often said that The Refinery is one of my favorite places to go when I am looking to draw inspiration. Whether it is inspiration from our vendors, customers, sales reps, or our staff;  I know I can often find it at The Refinery no matter which location it may be.

As I sat down to begin writing down my goals and aspirations for 2018 you can probably guess where I looked to draw inspiration from and to help channel the 1,864,986,378 ideas I have. I thought it would be fun to take a moment and share with you just a few fun ones that stood out  for me this year and how the items in store are helping me shape just a few of my thoughts for the new year both personally and professionally! I guess you could call it my very own digital vision board 🙂

1. Accessorize myself: Some of you may laugh when you read this but I am a pretty casual dresser . I love fashion, I love putting together outfits, buying for all the stores, and helping people look and feel amazing but I sometimes can be a little boring when it comes to my own personal attire on a day to day basis. I like to keep things comfortable and let’s face it.. Kid friendly! You will often find me in a pair of leggings in the Fall/Winter (Very rarely do I wear jeans) and a trendy casual sweater, top, or vest and in the summer I typically live in dresses.  Most of my days consist of running from store to store, practice to practice, meetings, all the typically life stuff and I am all about the comfort while doing so. One thing I really want to get better at though is ACCESSORIZING. We have so many amazing pieces in store to be able to do so and lets be real, accessories can change the look of an entire outfit! They say baby steps is the way to go to bigger goals. So lets start with accessories and ease our way into jeans.. Someday.. maybe! 

2. Live a healthier lifestyle (Fancy way of saying drop the 10-15 I told myself I was going to do last year):  Every single year I tell myself I am going to live a healthier lifestyle, loose those last 10-15 but each year I find myself hanging onto them. This year I am telling myself that my goal is to go down one sleek belt size, meal plan and prepare my grocery list prior to going to the grocery store, and to never skip dessert. Life is simply too short to skip desert! Now although I’m sure I will #LMAO at the scale at the end of the year, I can assure you that I will be one happy lady because I listened to the coaster in store that inspired me to never skip dessert.

 

3. Explore this great state: The amount of people I have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with this past year has been incredible. People from all different backgrounds with so many inspiring stories. Many of which all started right here in Minnesota. This year I hope to be able to travel this great state and explore the many possibilities that not only Minnesota has to offer but across the Midwest!

4. Goal Getter: Perfectly Imperfect, Messy bun & getting stuff done, be brave…. All sounds about right when setting new goals right?  Although I haven’t been able to fully conquer my “Healthier Lifestyle” goal, I LOVE setting goals and seeing them come to life.  Exploring new opportunities and seizing every opportunity presented is something that I thrive on. I often get emails and messages asking me to share with them how to possibly pursue a goal and dream of theirs. A boutique, an event idea, or simply just someone to bounce an idea off of. Time hasn’t allowed me the opportunity to be able to assist in this area as much as  I would like,  but I have some big plans this year to hopefully make a small impact not only in this area but doing so while offering  new and unique products throughout The Refinery!

 

5. Options.. A woman needs options! This past year we have really expanded not only the amount of options we have throughout all locations but have also expanded our style selection which has been fun to watch and see grow. With our average shoppers being anywhere between 21-55 it has blessed us with the opportunity to dress women of many different generations which has been such a great experience not to mention SO. MUCH.FUN! Each of our locations bring a different clientele which makes each store so unique. I am excited to really be able to expand on this, this year and be able to offer more for all ages, shapes, and sizes. Maybe even within a few new locations… (Ok there was your hint 🙂 )

6. Refine & Unwind: Many of you have heard me share bits and pieces about various Refine & Unwind features throughout the past year and I CANNOT even begin to share my excitement of what’s to come with this brand this year. This brand is something that is truly going to bring together each and every aspect of The Refinery  (Clothing, home décor, gifts, food, locally made, DIY, you name it) and I promise you, you are going to love!

7. Keep It real: Dreaming big, crushing goals, meal planning… Yup they all sound amazing but they all come with a  tremendous amount of time, work, and patience. If there is anything that I have learned throughout the last two years, is to give myself a break! Not everything has  to go exactly as planned in order to work out just the way it was supposed to. I have faced many challenges along the way which I truly believe overcoming those challenges is what has made The Refinery successful! At the end of the year will I have reached all 1,985,523,546 goals (See already went up) and ideas I for the year?! Probably not.. Will I have reached all 7 of the ones I have shared above .. Probably not.. But if there is one thing I am certain of,  is that a combination of faith, family, and by letting go of the fear of failure, you are destined to be successful no matter what you do. Oh and by never ever skipping the opportunity for dessert!

XOXO

Ashleigh

 

 

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