Nurse in Canada turns a side hustle into her full-time dream job
Angie Jayasinghe is an emerging Toronto stylist and a registered nurse.
She moved to Toronto when she was 18 to study nursing at Toronto Metropolitan University but during that time, she made a lot of friends in the fashion programs at TMU’s Creative School, and became inspired by their projects.
When she realized that she was good at styling, she started to pursue it as a hobby outside of her nursing education, all while continuing to pursue her nursing career goals.
Her program was very demanding though. She was working volunteer hours at the hospital, all while tackling a full academic course load.
Her fourth year was met by peak COVID-19, which meant that she was working full-time at an understaffed hospital as an unpaid student, and still trying to pursue styling on the side.
Despite limited time and exhaustion, she took on the most styling jobs she’d ever worked during that time. “I think the pandemic really pushed people creatively,” she recalls.
Once she graduated, she started working at Mount Sinai as a part-time nurse in order to have more time for her styling work, but working two part-time jobs back to back was still incredibly trying.
“My entire week was occupied, working a night shift and finishing at 7:30 in the morning, and barely getting any rest in between,” she explains. “This went on for around a year and a half.”
During that time, she expanded her styling work to music videos, commercial clients and editorials.
When it occurred to her that she could make a reasonable income from it, she decided it was time to leave her time-consuming nursing role to pursue her stylist dreams full-time.
“I will always love nursing,” she says. “But I just wasn’t getting that joy from it anymore. So in order to not become a very bitter nurse, I thought it was best for me to leave.”
She still picks up shifts at the hospital as a “casual” staffer when she’s not busy with styling, and says the change has re-energized her love of nursing, even improving the way she interacts with patients.
“It made me realize how important it is for healthcare professionals to get time off,” she explains, “because a lot of nurses get denied vacation requests due to the hospital being short-staffed.”
Jayasinghe is her own boss now, scheduling her own hours and picking which jobs she wants to do.
“I have that flexibility now that I’m not working around my nursing schedule anymore,” she says.
Her clients include Toronto businesses, vintage clothing stores and local musicians.
One project that stands out to her is a two-part series for the hair care brand Judi World. She not only styled, but modeled in the launch campaign, which distributed posters all over Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
Her recent styling work was even showcased by Toronto singer-songwriter, Mighloe, on a massive billboard in Yonge-Dundas Square.
Jayasinghe frequently styles Toronto electronic musician, Debby Friday, and dressed popular local singer, Alexandra Porat, in Everything Everywhere All At Once-themed outfits for her music video, “Hate Love.”
Her colourful style is definitely something to watch out for.
While she has plenty of projects currently underway, she does have a little advice for anyone considering leaving their full-time job to pursue a creative passion.
As someone who enjoys stability, she warns that it’s not easy and she wouldn’t have been successful without the support of her friends and family.
She says that if you feel scared, simply have a backup plan like she does.
“Ultimately if you don’t try, you’re gonna regret it later. You can always go back to what you’re doing if it doesn’t work out.”