Parker McLean, 29
Founder and creative director, In the Rye Creative
Life Story: In 2009, when Parker McLean graduated from UBC with a BA in human geography and structural linguistics, he filed income tax for the first time in six years. As a student for much of that period, McLean received a healthy refund, allowing him to freelance as a web designer. Two years later he became art director of Briteweb, where he learned how to operate a large-scale agency but was struck by the lack of diversity in the digital media industry. The result was In the Rye Creative, a Vancouver-based branding agency that McLean founded in 2015 to focus on diversity and inclusivity in the digital sector, especially for people with low or no vision. Many of In the Rye’s clients are non-profit organizations like Baltimore’s Humanim, which creates employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for people living with financial, gender or racial-bias-based barriers to employment.
The Bottom Line: In 16 months, In the Rye fully paid out initial investors, secured three international speaking engagements on accessibility, broadened its client base to the eastern U.S., built an international team of four and secured client work for the next three quarters. In the next five years, McLean’s goal is to expand to a team of 30 and an annual operating budget of $3 million, then exit the business to found a digital design and marketing school focused on community-minded, emotionally adjusted design ethics.