How I Thrive: Kate Flynn, Founder Of Sun & Swell Foods

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 Sun & Swell Foods founder Kate Flynn, who swears by eyelash extensions and eight hours of sleep. 

Name: Kate Flynn

Age: 34

City: Santa Barbara, CA 

Company: Sun & Swell Foods, a company on a mission to reinvent the world of packaged foods by making snacks that are better for people and the planet.

Role: Co-founder & CEO 

Beyond the role:  Sunshine addict, beach-lover, foodie, wife (my husband is my co-founder!) and a doggy mom.

Morning routine: 

My morning routine starts the night before. I have to be disciplined about going to bed by 10 PM, because as a night owl, this is early for me! I wake up naturally, without an alarm, after about eight hours. After 20 years of waking up with an alarm, this is one of my favorite parts about my morning these days. I try as hard as I possibly can to not look at my phone for the first hour of my day, and I'm successful about 50% of the week. I've noticed that on the days I actually make this happen, I'm so much happier. 
I do about five minutes of deep breathing/meditation where I think of a positive affirmation about where I see my life in the future. I brush my teeth, then start out with some exercise, which is either a long walk with my dog and husband or a 20-30-minute Peloton class. I make breakfast, which is usually an egg scramble. Then I spend about five minutes planning my day with my Silk + Sonder journal before my workday begins. 
 

The first thing I do after work: 

When I first started Sun & Swell, I regularly worked past 10 PM at night, often compromising sleep just to get more hours of work in. Three years into running my business, I've learned that's not totally sustainable for me. So I try the best I can to stop working by 7 PM. In the summer, I usually take my dog for a long walk. In the winter when it's dark and chilly out, I tend to prefer to curl up on the couch with a book or one of my favorite shows!

Dinner ritual: 

It tends to vary week by week. On a good week, I meal prep on Sunday and have a yummy dinner to come home to throughout the week. On weeks where I don't have time to meal prep, I tend to eat out more often, or figure someway to make dinner in less than 10 minutes, even if it means I'm eating scrambled eggs for dinner. While I enjoy cooking, I'm never in the mood to cook a full meal after a day of work.

Nighttime routine: 

About an hour before bed, I try to make sure I'm no longer using my phone so my head can start to clear. I start to tell my body it's time to wind down for bed by turning on essential oils (typically lavender), and dimming the lights. I usually put on a show just to really help my brain turn off—"The Office" is my go-to, I just can't get enough! After that, I typically can fall asleep quickly. But if I ever have trouble, I'll turn on a Headspace Sleepcast and I'm out within five minutes.

Self-care guilty pleasure: 

My eyelash extensions. They make me feel amazing from the moment I wake up. Plus, you're required to lay there for an hour with your eyes closed every three to four weeks when you get them filled ... hello, nap time. 

Work day self-care hack: 

Taking a walk outside. Sometimes five minutes will do, other times it may need to be 30 minutes. But getting some fresh air and letting my mind clear always makes me feel better.

How I define self-care: 

Consciously setting aside time to take care of your well-being and prioritizing it just like you would work. Put time on your calendar for exercise and treat it like it's just as important as any other meeting. Give yourself permission to sleep eight hours a night, even if that means sleeping in until 10 AM because you didn't go to bed until after midnight. Nourish your body with foods that fuel you and make you feel good by setting aside time to prep and plan for a week—don't wait until you're starving and just scrambling to find something that will do the trick.

Favorite childhood hobby or toy: 

I loved crafts, particularly sewing. I sewed blankets, stuffed animals, and even a dress one time. It's funny because today, I would say I'm the opposite of crafty... but I think my love for making things at a young age translated into my love today for product and the consumer goods industry.

State of your (email) inbox: 

I try (with and emphasis on TRY!) to get to Inbox Zero every week. I read emails and flag ones that are important. To clear out emails, I usually move them into archived organized folders if I don't want to delete them, such as "customers" and "suppliers." 

Want to kick your self-care game up a notch? Subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.

Illustration by Megan Behrendt

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