How I Thrive: Endlessly Elated Founder Kathleen Pagan

How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with Endlessly Elated founder Kathleen Pagan, who swears by cooking, a glass of champagne, a warm bath and a hamburger as the ultimate form of self-care.

Name: Kathleen Pagan

Age: 37

City: Rutherford, NJ

Company: Endlessly Elated, a luxury homewares company that co-creates its home products with our consumer, who's at the head of our (dinner) table.

Role: Founder & CEO 

Beyond the role: Ex-CFO, creator of the Femme Think Tank — a cohort that teaches women-owned businesses how to bolster their companies — an interior design and cooking enthusiast (never met an interior design projector a food I didn’t like) and lover of all things true crime.

Morning routine:

My morning routine begins a little something like this: No alarm – I vowed after leaving corporate America that I would only allow my body to awaken naturally, which means anywhere between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.

Then it’s off to meditate with Headspace. I love this app! Next I go downstairs, drink a glass of water or two, and jump right into journaling — one of the best practices I’ve incorporated into my routine. Once I’ve set my intentions for the day, it’s workout time, which could mean a long walk with my husband, a Peloton ride with one of my favorite instructors, or some dance cardio. 

Lastly I shower, get dressed — being an entrepreneur and working from home has taught me that in doing so I'm way more productive — make myself a nice latte and then it’s off to the races. Sidebar: On top of my no-alarm rule, I’ve also opted for no meetings before 10 a.m. as my morning routine is non-negotiable. Best decision ever.

The first thing I do after work: 

Usually, I jump right into the kitchen. It’s my therapy. Glass of champagne, soft Spanish, Italian or French music in the background, while becoming lost in the making of a tasty meal. Nothing feels more relaxing to me than cooking at home. Although a close second would certainly be a long, warm bath, scented candle, bath bomb, and a good book. Gosh, writing this is just making me want to jump right into doing both. 

Dinner ritual: 

Dinner happens around 7 p.m. on weeknights and normally consists of me cooking. Although, my husband does attempt to do so on nights I’m running behind schedule. Weekends are more relaxed. Dinner tends to be later and normally filled with takeout or a night out on the town. Anything from fresh sushi to juicy burgers (I consider myself a connoisseur) is on the menu. We are complete foodies. So much so that we have actually traveled for the sole purpose of food. Nothing else. Just food.

Nighttime routine:

I’m just as serious about my nighttime routine as I am about my morning one. I sound rigid, but I promise I’m not! Dinner normally wraps up around 8 p.m. I relax a bit by reading or listening to a podcast. It used to be TV, but I have my ups and downs with it. Currently, I’m in a down phase — I think it stems from too much binge-watching while quarantining.

At around 9:30 or 10:00 PM, I go upstairs, wash my makeup off, do my skin-care routine, and get into PJs. Here’s where I normally succumb to my guilty pleasure: Watching YouTube.  After a bit of that and since I turn off the TV, use Headspace (told you I love it!) and begin winding down for the night. I suffer from insomnia, so I take my wind-down routine very seriously. 

Self-care guilty pleasure:

Does indulging in a tasty meal with a really good glass of wine or champagne while hosting loved ones count as self-care?! If so, that’s totally my self-care guilty pleasure.

Workday self-care hack: 

I don't know that this constitutes as a self-care hack, but I try not to skip meals. In doing so, I get up from my desk and don't allow myself to sit for 12 hours straight. I also find that it clears my mind a bit and lets me come back with more focused energy.

How do you define self-care?

I guess I've answered my own question. Honestly, it is hosting and just being around the people I love. My tribe. And what better way to do that than to show them how much I appreciate them with a home-cooked — yet elevated! — meal.

Favorite childhood toy or hobby: 

Now I'm really going to sound like a broken record, but to paint a picture for you, I was definitely the child who cried if my mom didn't allow me in the kitchen to help her cook. One time, I got my hair caught in an electric mixer and I didn't skip a beat. I knew if I had made a fuss, my mom would have not allowed me to stay. So I untangled my hair, wiped my tears, and was like "Mom, no big deal, right?"
I also pretended to host the adults whenever we had dinner parties and adamantly decorated my room a million times over. So, yes the grown-up version in me is still my inner child. Also, please explain how I studied finance vs. culinary school or interior design school or — better yet! — became an entrepreneur of my own homewares company? Better late than never, right?

State of your (email) inbox: 

Okay, maybe I'm a bit rigid, or shall we say disciplined? Currently *goes to inbox to check* I have three unread emails and that may be one too many. I just can't do it. Clearing out my inbox gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can't tell you how many times I glance over at my husband's only to see thousands and I'm like, "What?!" Can't imagine that will ever be me (famous last words).

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Illustration by Megan Behrendt

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