How this 27-year-old from Toronto turned her denim paint business into a career

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Stefanie Furgiuele, 27, started her business Original Genes as a side hustle in 2016, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended up turning it into a career.

Original Genes offers hand-painted clothing with custom designs created by Furgiuele.

She uses recycled denim jackets sourced from local thrift shops, Kijiji and Craigslist as her main canvas.

In addition to her fashion merchandise, she also offers virtual paint events and paint-at-home kits that come with a tote and an online guide.

Her hand-painted jackets range from $80 to $200 depending on the design and customization. You can place an order for your own custom design via Instagram DM or on her website.

"It wasn't something I really set out to do. I was working a 9-5 job that was really Excel-focused, but I was a very creative person, and I had always loved painting," Furgiele told BlogTO.

After she was let go from her job as an event planner in April 2020, Furgiuele took the plunge, left the 9-5 grind and put her paintbrush to work full time.

With no steady income in April 2020, Furgiele was nervous about making the leap, but it worked out in her favour.

She took up some part-time work as a server over the summer of 2020 and focused on building up her business, which already had a solid foundation.

"I put my time into my business because I already had it built up, but it wasn't until this holiday season where I posted so many corporate paint nights and created so many stockings, jackets and shoes that I was like, okay, I think I can 100% do this full time, so this year I'm all in."

After the holiday season of 2020/2021, she can now rely on her business as her sole income confidently.

"Everything works out for a reason, and you have to follow your passion," she said, "I mean, now I'm making a career as an artist."

Her most popular design is her classic Toronto skyline jacket, which features the Toronto city skyline in various shapes.

Frugielle grew up in the Dufferin and College area, and the design for her most popular jacket was inspired by her Toronto Pride.

"I have a lot of Toronto pride and I wanted to wear and represent my city," she said.

Each piece of clothing can take Frugielle anywhere from 1-4 hours to paint, with custom designs ranging on the longer side, which happen to make up about 80 per cent of her orders.

However, jackets and jeans aren't Frugielle's only forte. She also creates custom kicks.