The Refinery: Your Everyday Inspiration

Austin is known as Silicon Hills, the other hub for tech companies. You’ll find a slew of tech businesses downtown, Eastside and the Domain but what if you’re looking for a space but aren’t tech? That was the problem Hayley Swindell, founder of The Refinery, found when she started her subscription box company. Many small retail shops with consumer packaged goods and artists are left without a place to go. In an article from Austinot, Hayley explains,

“The Refinery grew out of what I needed for my previous subscription box company,” Swindell explained. “It was growing, but I wound up not having a lot of the resources I needed to showcase my products. I didn’t have the right lighting for my photos, and I didn’t have any gear or props. I had to use the same plant in every product’s photo. Running this company out of my apartment wasn’t going to work, but there weren’t many options at the time.”

A Beautiful Space

When I first walked into The Refinery, I noticed the attention that was given to building this space. In film there is a term called mise en scène which is an expression used to describe the design aspect of a theatre or film production, which essentially means “visual theme” or “telling a story”—both in visually artful ways…” Every part of the scene is specifically chosen to drive a theme. I feel The Refinery’s attention to detail provides a deliberately beautiful space. 

Easy Inspiration for Artists

It’s easy to understand why makers, creators and artists flock to The Refinery. With downtown saturated by techies, it’s a breath of fresh air to walk into a space that’s different. The space has a very feminine feel but caters to all. It reminds me of my experiences at Anthropologie, where I walk in not because I want to buy anything but because it’s so well designed that it changes my mood every time I walk through their store. Art can invigorate the heart and mind.

Why Cowork Here

The space is brightly lit with fresh white, brick walls with subtle earth tones throughout. I particularly enjoyed how there were several small nooks and spaces to work. If you ever need a photography set up, look no more. They have a dedicated photography studio on the first floor (Canvas). Canvas is used during the evening for events and top floor is for coworking and private offices.

One of the more interesting benefits of coworking at The Refinery is that you can display your retail products. There’s tons of art, clothing and jewelry that other businesses and walk ins can check out. Logistically this helps businesses find the best display options that work for their products. You’re able to easily test out a concept without the risk of committing to a commercial lease.

Best of all, The Refinery is a great place to surround yourself with like minded people who are going through similar hurdles as you are. The space allows other businesses to support each other. Running a business is difficult so the better support group you have, the more likely you’ll get through it. Come check out their upcoming events and follow their blog (coming soon).

Top Coworking Blogs in Austin

Austin has a ton of resources to offer when it comes to starting and running a business. To help you navigate what your business may need, we’ve gathered the top coworking blogs. These topics range anywhere from local events to productivity hacks.

1. Link Coworking

This blog tops our list as it should be your go to resource (outside of when it comes to anything coworking. As mentioned in our recent blog about Link, you’ll know that the founder runs GUCC, a global coworking community. You’ll find articles like Productivity to the Max and tips on how to keep work life balance.

2. Meld Coworking

Like the Jennifer Lawrence of coworking, Kay Dee has successfully created a coworking space while still bringing in practical improvements based on her freelancing experience. The space is familiar like your neighborhood cafe. Something very relatable. You’ll find her active in Austin’s Facebook Groups–Austin Startups and Society of WE –and within the community. MELD’s blogs give tips on how to travel and work or uses for social media as an entrepreneur.

3. Techspace 

Techspace has 9 locations throughout the US so you’ll find their more broad content on coworking. If you’re not a millennial it’s no problem, Coworking Isn’t Just for Millennials. Keep up with trends in shared spaces and tips on working remotely.

4. Createscape

If you’re part of the Createscape community or are thinking of joining, you’ll want to keep track of this blog. With updates of community events, new features and additions to the space and productivity tips. The 3 year old coworking space has a close community feel that you’ll notice throughout their articles.

5. Capital Factory

With so much going on each day at Capital Factory, you could write a whole blog on the happenings. Which is exactly what you’ll find. The tech hub has even expanded to Dallas so you’ll get extra content. You’ll find everything from updates about new mentors and members to the latest events.

6. Impact Hub Austin

Impact Hub’s blog concentrates on social good with several global goals. This is the place to go if you’d like to find and stay connected to a community who shares the same ideals as you. Find updates on progress with fighting against slavery in Texas or meet the newest cohort of the affordability accelerator. If you’re not part of the social impact scene that’s ok. They also have content on tips on better coworking productivity and the best places in Austin for a staycation.

7. Soma Vida

Nothing creates a better work life balance than a community concentrated on wellness. Soma Vida’s blog talks about all things “wellness, business and passion.” Everything from healthy lunch ideas to meditation tips can be found here. They’ll also update you on the happenings in Austin but no matter where you’re at, you’ll want to check out this blog!

8. Social Innovation Austin

Whether you’re an entrepreneur interested in the social impact space or an employee at a non-profit, this blog is for you. You’ll find lots of interesting opportunities, intros to who’s who in the Austin social impact scene and how to scale your social impact to other cities.

9. Duo Works

Duo Works introduces you to it’s community with an intimate member’s spotlight a couple of times a week. You can learn about the other companies coworking there and see if it’s the right community fit. You’ll also find useful information on what to expect as a company relocating to Austin and productivity tips.

10. Global Blogs

Didn’t find what you wanted? No problem. Here’s a list of 60 coworking blogs to fill in any gaps these 9 local blogs don’t provide. These global blogs cover everything from thoughts about the future of work to a community of remote workers looking for best efficiency tips.

Host Your Next Event at a Coworking Space

Thinking about throwing a networking event or your company’s launch party? Why not have it at a coworking space? It’s becoming more common to see all kinds of events offered at your local coworking space. Here’s 5 reasons why coworking spaces are great for your next event:

  1. Coworking spaces have an established community




You can get instant exposure for your event by working with the community manager at the coworking space. Their job is to know the community so they’ll know all the big players and who would be most interested in your event. They also should have a pretty active social media network that they can blast out about community events. It’s not guaranteed but it’s worth a try to see if they’ll promote your event.

  1. Coworking spaces are built for large groups

Although it may not be their first priority in building a space, you can bet that most spaces were built to hold events. It makes logical, business sense that if everyone typically works 9-5, there is a huge vacancy in the evening. This is perfect for those looking to host a panel or Meetup group. You’re not paying crazy costs for venues that rely solely on events as revenue.

  1. Coworking spaces has someone working the front door

Rather than trying to bribe your friends to usher people into the right rooms, you’ll automatically have someone assigned to the front door when you host your event at a coworking space. With such a large venue, guests can easily get confused on where to go, finding restrooms or a phone booth. Your day will go so much smoother knowing that someone has that taken care of.

  1. Coworking spaces have the right amenities for events

Nothing causes a panic more than finding out the mic doesn’t work or the projector is acting up. Many coworking spaces will have technical equipment that you would otherwise have to rent. You can also rest assured that someone has set it up before and can help troubleshoot if you have problems (even if they’re not there at the event, you can always ask and prep ahead of time). Since coworking spaces were built for business use, you can bet that everything you’ll need such as access to office supplies will save the day when you forget to print something out or create a sign up sheet.

  1. Integrate with the community

What better way to connect with your community than to host your event at a coworking space. The mindset of coworking is for individuals and companies to find community in a common space. It promotes diversity in industry, people and thoughts. You’d be surprised to find different types of people interested in your event that you may not have thought to target!

Is Coworking Right For You & Your Team?

A common question that many of us go through is whether coworking is right for us and/or our team. There’s a lot of factors that play into what makes a successful workplace. Before you sign up for a commercial office space or hole up at home, consider these pros and cons of coworking:

A Great Community

When it’s just you it can be pretty lonely. What better way to instantly create a sense of community by joining a coworking space. Most of these work spaces have an open floor plan. People naturally build friendships and workplace culture germinates when people are put together in one room.

Unfortunately you do tend to get less work done when you start to know everyone. A quick run to the bathroom could mean a 30 minute catchup with a friend. It’s always helped me to be goal oriented each day. That way I keep balance between getting work done and being social. I’ve also found that I tend to get more work done when I’m around other people.

Shared Costs

You can get a much nicer workspace and amenities since all the costs are shared amongst everyone coworking. Just like coops, the more people involved, the lower the overhead costs are. That means you get better equipment, spaces and snacks because it’s being split amongst a ton of people.

No Commitment as You Grow

Coworking allows people to test out spaces and learn what their/their team’s needs are before committing to something much larger. Commercial leases tend to be for up to 10 years unless you’re subletting on someone else’s lease. It doesn’t make sense if it’s early on and your finances aren’t as stable as you’d like. Many people choose commercial office space because they’re looking for a specific type of venue (commercial kitchen, warehouse etc). Nowadays, there’s so many spaces that provide that like Capital Kitchen that it’s easier to just cowork.

Coworking is also great for those who work remotely. When you’re not anchored to one place, it’s great to be able to go anywhere and still find a community. The flexibility to go from one person to up to 10+ people makes coworking worth it. You also get the added benefit of diversity of mindset. It’s easy for people to bounce ideas off each other who may not even be in the same company.

Is Coworking Right For You & Your Team?

One of the benefits of coworking spaces is that they let you test out the space before really committing. You can easily sign up for day passes online or just walk into a space and ask for a tour. Spend the rest of the day deciding if it’s the right place to start off. Lots of places also have flexibility in doing monthly memberships. That way you can give it some time to learn the community and location and see if it’s right for you.