In Bed With... Aishleen O'Brien, Founder of Nightingale Express

Moonlit's In Bed With... Series is a collection of intimate interviews with tastemakers, core-shakers, and the people we love. We explore what keeps them up at night, in addition to their sleep secrets.

Aishleen O'Brien
Aishleen

Aishleen O'Brien is a travel nurse and entrepreneur living and working in Seattle, WA. She started Nightingale Express - a selection of carefully curated gift boxes for nurses - as a way to make it easier for families of patients, friends of colleagues, and patients themselves to say thank you to the nurses who care for them.

Q: Hi Aishleen! We love your idea of being able to send customized gift boxes to say thank you in a practical yet stylish way. Can you share with us your inspiration behind Nightingale Express?

I initially came up with the idea of Nightingale Express while working in the pediatric cardiac ICU. Families of patients that were cared for on our unit + family and friends of my coworkers would ask for suggestions of what they could do to thank a nurse. Of course, a heartfelt thank you, a card, a hug... will always make our shift but as far as something to make the nurse feel cared for- I was at a loss. I have always seen fellow nurses going above and beyond to take care for their patients- but not themselves. Nurses deserve to be treated too; so I decided to create a company to does just that.

Q: We love how you chose to honor nurses by naming boxes after them. Who is your greatest inspiration, and why?

My greatest inspiration has always been my fellow nurses. It’s truly awe inspiring to see how nurses are able to stay cool in stressful situations, advocate for their patients, juggle work/home life while working crazy hours, educate + support each other... the list goes on and on.

 Nightingale Express The Clara box
The Clara

Q: As a full-time nurse, it’s very impressive that you’re also running your own business on the side. Could you share with us on any support you received when foraging into this new line of work, and any advice that you’d like to give to those looking to set up their own startup?

I’m definitely one busy nurse but there are a few people that have been imperative to getting Nightingale Express up and running. My family has been super supportive and helpful, always willing to be a sounding board or order a gift box from across the country just to see how it looks upon arrival (my dad’s company actually prints all the beautiful Nightingale labels!). Most importantly my best friend, Hannah is the designer extraordinaire behind Nightingale Express. We just finished an exciting rebranding project and everything from the logo to the boxes to the labels all look amazing thanks to her.

For anyone looking to begin the start-up journey I would say go for it! It’s a ton of work but I know if I hadn’t started Nightingale Express I would always be wondering “what if?!” I think it’s important to not be discouraged by what you don’t know. If you have a good idea that you’re passionate about- you will figure out how to get there (it may just take more than a couple google searches).

Q: How do you juggle being a full-time nurse and running Nightingale Express? Are there any tips and tricks for productivity that you can share with us?

I’m ALL about the to-do list. I also think that being a nurse gives you pretty great prioritization skills (along with the ability to stay up all night if necessary).

There are some days when I think to myself- wow this is a ton of work, what am I doing?! However, this feeling quickly fades when writing out the personal messages from loved ones to each nurse that receives a Nightingale Express gift box. These lovely messages are so heartfelt and supportive; they’re amazing reminders of why I decided to do this. Oh, and coffee helps a lot :)

Nightingale Express The Walt box
The goodies in The Walt box

Q: As a nurse and entrepreneur, we have no doubts that your schedule is constantly packed. What are your favorite tips and tricks to unwind after a long day (or night) and to keep your work-life balance in check?

Lately, most of my unwinding time includes hitting the gym with my boyfriend and going home to snuggle our cat, Freddie. Also, after a stressful day at work I like to listen to podcasts on my way home to give my racing mind a little break (current favorites are: My Favorite Murder, The Moth, & Dr. Death).

When I have some rare free time I love to hike, hit up a new restaurant or brewery, or check out the latest Netflix thriller.

Q: How do you handle the impacts of stress from night shifts, long shifts, extended working hours on your body and skin? Do you have a nighttime and/or skincare routine that you can share with us?

One of my biggest struggles while at work is staying hydrated, so in the evenings I try to drink lots of water (of course from my Soma water bottle). As far as a skin care routine, I love Dermalogica products for cleansing and moisturizing my face. The self care goodies in Nightingale Express gift boxes were chosen because I truly love them. Many of my daily routines include these items. If my face needs a little moister boost- I throw on a Face The Day sheet mask from Timeless Beauty Bar. If my skin’s dry I love Handmade La Conner lotion or Moon Valley Organics peppermint rub for my feet. Then before bed, I top it all off with my favorite Moonlit Skincare “Let Me Sleep” silk eye mask and a few spritzes of Birchrose + Co Slumber aura mist.

Nightingale Express The NightShifter
The NightShifter

Q: We’ve learned that you’re a travel nurse. Can you share with our readers on what being a travel nurse entails, your experience thus far, and your favorite parts of being one?

I was a travel nurse for about four years before deciding to stay put in Seattle for the time being. Travel nursing is an amazing opportunity to see the country, experience different hospitals, and make a little extra money. The average travel nursing contract is 13-15 weeks and a nurse usually sets that contract up with a recruiter from a travel nursing/staffing agency. Often times via the staffing agency a travel nurse can choose to have a furnished apartment provided for them or receive a living stipend. Being a travel nurse is such a unique and invaluable experience. I loved seeing how other cardiac/pediatric ICUs functioned. It was also a great way to explore the country and meet some amazing people. If you are a nurse- I would definitely recommend taking advantage of this exciting opportunity within our field.

Q: What are your future plans for Nightingale Express?

I’m hoping that we can continue to add new gift boxes to our Nightingale Express line as well as continuing to work towards making our existing boxes exactly what nurses want and need. We strive to bring the best, most pertinent, high-quality items to all the deserving nurses out there!

Q: Where to next after Seattle, and why?

Seattle is going to be home for at least the foreseeable future. After living the gypsy nurse lifestyle for a few years, it’s been great to have a home base. I’m loving the PNW and all the adventures to be had here!

🔥 QUICKFIRE 🔥

My ideal # of hours of sleep is: 9 (but usually get 6-7)
Sleep season for me is: winter ❄️
How many pillows?: 1
AM or PM?: PM
Nightcap?: bourbon old fashioned 🥃
Bad sleep habit: staying up too late + being on my phone before lights out
Good sleep habit: nighttime moisturizer + linen spray
Can't sleep with: my cat Freddie - he loves to sneak onto my pillow at 3 am Side/back/stomach sleeper: side sleeper

Check out Nightingale Express on Instagram.