Interview with Kate Pascoe Squires of The Slowdown

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant shift away from the glorification of ‘busy’. We’re now hearing terms like ‘slow fashion’ and ‘slow food,’ which are concepts that fall under the umbrella of the ‘slow movement’ – a way of life that emphasises quality over quantity. It advocates the need to spend our time and energy mindfully and with purpose, and to savour moments rather than treat things as a means to an end.

One seriously inspiring champion of the movement is Kate Pascoe Squires. After facing challenging health issues for a number of years, she decided she needed to start living a simpler, more conscious life. We sat down with Kate to learn how we can incorporate a little more mindfulness into our daily life.

Tell us about the slow movement/the concept of “slow living”. What does it mean to you, and what prompted this significant shift in your life?

My slowdown was prompted after years of chronic illness and, despite this, the ridiculously fast-paced life I didn’t realise I was living. I had no reserves, no joy, no lightness – my only concern was getting through the day so that I could get to bed that night. So sad when I look back on that time now, but I learnt my lesson—not quickly, but the universe persisted until I did—and then made some significant changes. 

I think most of us have been in that low, low space and it’s not nice down there. A lot of people think that’s just where they need to be, but they don’t. There is always a way up and out, but it takes work, discipline and a willingness to open your heart and mind to the beauty that is life.

How can we incorporate slow movement principles into our daily life?

It’s different for everyone, but I am dedicated to finding tiny slices of time to do the things that fill me with joy. And I’m talking small. My morning meditation (before the kids wake), a moment to sit and enjoy my chai, leaving the grocery shopping for another day (“it’s toast for dinner, kids!” They love it!) and slinking off to jump in the ocean. A glass of wine… or two. Loud music when I’m cooking dinner or driving – always songs I can sing to at full volume.

You owe it to yourself to find out what it is that will bring you pure joy and then do it, every day. The work, the house, the kids, all the commitments – they will still be waiting for you on the other side.

Can you take us through your morning routine?

Most mornings, I wake around 6 am and meditate for 20 minutes. I run through a few positive affirmations to get my head in a good space. A few bits and pieces with crystals (a new addition to my morning routine) and then I hit the ground running – shower, kids up, dressed, breakfasts, lunches, packing bags. A couple of mornings a week, I sneak off to the gym. If not, I love walking my minis to school with our dog, and I always celebrate the drop off with an almond milk chai. Back home and into the office for the work day to begin.

How did you get to where you are today in your career?

I started my career in wine PR after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Public Relations) at Melbourne’s RMIT. I love wine, so it was the perfect first “career” job. A year in, the company split in half and I moved to Sydney to restart the business up here. This led to a great many years in PR, working with a lot of alcohol brands, chefs, restaurants, etc. It was an absolute hoot – until I had my second baby and realised it was a career for the young(er).

It was around this time I became more interested in a creative career. I did some workshops at The School with Megan Morton and a group of amazing creatives and realised that this was, indeed, a possibility for me. A couple of months later, my sister-in-law and I started Kate & Kate, a homewares business that we ran together for four years. 

After closing Kate & Kate, there was a huge gap in my life, but I left it wide open for more than a year before starting The Slowdown – which launched earlier this month and explores the individual stories of struggle, joy, pause, space and slow.

Who's your mentor?

I don’t specifically have one mentor, but draw inspiration from a raft of incredibly talented people I am lucky to know. Colleagues, friends, family – people like Jacqui Lewis from The Broad Place, stylist/author/travel guru Megan Morton, Smack Bang Design’s Tess Robinson, Jess Blanch from RUSSH magazine, Stuart Gregor from Four Pillars, my husband Tony Squires… but also some of my closest friends, who are in completely different fields and fly under the radar, but are my complete confidants and always proffer the best advice.

Finish this sentence: I’m most fulfilled when…

I’ve carved out time for a swim in the Bronte pool. I’m salty and sandy and heading off to pick my kids up from school. The sun is streaming through the window and life is good.

What has motherhood taught you so far?

That wine was invented for a reason.

Also, a love and fierce protectiveness that I never thought possible. Everything is amplified. Motherhood all at once cracks your heart open and makes it whole again.

 What are the five things you love right now?

  1. The ocean. Always. I’m bracing myself to swim through winter again this year, but I know it’s going to be tough.
  2. The Daily podcast by The New York Times – the content is really in depth, so interesting. I look forward to this every evening, five nights a week. And Michael Barbaro’s voice is smooth.
  3. Venustus – this beauty and body lab in Sydney’s Paddington is so much more than it seems. The treatments are incredibly restorative, and their products now form part of my daily ritual.
  4. Homecoming – Beyoncé’s Coachella concert from 2018 has been made into a 2-hour extravaganza for Netflix. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. I’m also listening to this album 24/7.
  5. Film – I am shooting imagery for The Slowdown completely on film. It’s terrifying every time I get prints back, and I’ve already made more mistakes than I care to share. But when you get a cracking shot, it’s just wow. I get shivers. When things go wrong, boy, it’s brutal, as there’s no going back.

What do you relish the most about living in Sydney?

The beaches. And the ocean pools. The best in the world.

Words to live by for women starting their own business?

Jump into it, head down, bum up. But always remember that it’s a business, so at some point, you are going to want to make some money. No one wants to work for free forever.

All images provided by Kate Pascoe Squires