When I was writing copy for the new Refinery Hotel website, I researched the history of the Colony Arcade, originally a hat factory. Surprisingly for the time, the first tenant of the expansive ground-floor space was a woman, Winifred T. McDonald. She transformed it into a ladies-only tea parlour that attracted well-heeled shoppers from Lord & Taylor and other more-established stores on Fifth Avenue. It’s rumored they came not just for tea and hat shopping, but also for illegal hootch during Prohibition.
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Using the history of the Colony Arcade and its original tenant as inspiration, we produced a video of a modern-day Winifred as the hero of the website.
One of Refinery’s marketing goals was to “redefine Midtown” — that is, to establish the hotel as a cool place for locals to hang out. Throughout the copy, I reiterated that Refinery hasn’t just been that refuge since it opened in 2013 — it’s been offering fashionable, rebellious ladies a place to meet for more than 100 years.
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Drawing inspiration again from the hotel’s former life as a working hat factory, we aimed to redefine Midtown by creating a digital magazine — Refinery Times. Taking a fashion-focused approach, we covered major events like Fashion Week, shared travel tips (such as where New York’s coolest guys get their hair cut) and profiled personalities through our “In Bed With” series. Notable interviews include Style Society Guy Jamal Jackson, lifestyle bloggers R’el Dade and Marcus Lloyd, and Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. founder Andrew Livingston.
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