The startup culture in Vancouver is not only thriving, it’s growing. It’s become a trend of it’s own that inspires, and encourages everyone to join in. People who move to the city see and experience this first hand, and realize that when surrounded by the energy here, there isn’t anything they can’t do. The world is your oyster in Vancouver, but how did that come to be? Why is Vancouver such a hot-bed of self employed creatives?
As part of an ongoing series, we’ll be meeting and interviewing creative entrepreneurs in Vancouver to see how and why they think this has happened, how they’ve benefited from it, and what makes them tick as an entrepreneur; we want to know, “Why Vancouver”.
Kim McMullen, ladies and gents, is a force to be reckoned with. As one of the most generous people I’ve ever met (her company, Flipside Creative gives 50% of their profits each year to charity) she is also the bad ass that gave me my first freelance design job - almost immediately after I graduated! So, clearly I have a bias, but there are a lot of other people in this city with some serious love for this trail blazing lady.
As someone deep into the self employment life (10 years and counting), she has a great perspective on why Vancouver (and the greater area) is so great for going your own way. As a resident of Bowen Island, she created a remote working team in order to live Island AND city life. This is the exact reason so many people move to Vancouver in fact; the lifestyle. If you want to climb the career ladder, you move to Toronto. If you want to live a great, B.C lifestyle, you move to Vancouver.
As one of the hoards that moved from the east coast, she can vouch 100% that this is true; the nature is inspiring - living deep in it is a way of life, her way of life, and it fuels everything she does.
"There's something about this city that is really transient. And not in a seedy, dirty way. In an ever-flowing and evolving way. People come and go like seasons. There's a real lack of permanence and I think it's really beautiful. There's a happiness-driven subculture that's not just an uprising; it just is. It's the heartbeat of this place. It's not unusual; it's almost the norm. Torontonians may accuse Vancouverites of idleness or laziness. "You're so laid back here," I've heard it a thousand times. In my own life, since moving from Toronto to Vancouver, many of my own friends and family members from back east have asked small-mindedly "Do you even work?".
Oh, I work.
I work hard.
I also live bold and on my own terms.
And I do it all without apology.
Vancouver, I believe, makes it possible.
Vancouver enables this because lifestyle comes first. And we don't feel bad about that. I used to apologize all the time for wanting to take time off. For running in the morning and coming in on time instead of coming in early. I felt guilty for only working 65 hours this week when the guys next to me was working 70. It was toxic. Sure, there are the suits and ties. There always will be. There are plenty of 9-5 opportunities. Plenty of bosses looking for employees. Plenty of cushy roles with great benefits packages. After all, it's still the real world here. Vancouver isn't adverse to the "normal" and the "expected". That said, Vancouver feels a little more open to me. A little more willing to bend to new ideas. It always has. It's always felt fluid.
It's a place where it's okay to author a life that doesn't revolve around work. Amenities are everywhere that make it possible to ditch 9-5 and thrive on your own terms. Plus , there is a real flare up of local love. What I mean it, Vancouverites like to do business with Vancouverites. We like to keep it in the family. Support our own communities. Help our neighbours to thrive. So it never feels like being part of a company matters because we're already a part of a community of like-minded individuals who work hard with the intention of creating unique lives."
1. Do you have a favourite cafe or local spot to work from?
I don't. I like to roam. I've parked it all over the city. Met some really interesting folks. Creatives. Community leaders. Philanthropists. Students galore! Kind souls with neat ideas. I like that there are literally hundreds of cafes and spaces to choose from. Some have been busts. Some have been utter delight. All have been an experience and all have made my work better as a result.
2. What's your favourite music to listen to whilst working?
I'm one of those nerds that never listens to tunes (gasp!). My work is really brain intensive, So I save my music influx for running. While I'm working, my music is my brain coming up with brilliant (hopefully) ideas, plans, strategies, etc.
3. What's your favourite thing about summer in Vancouver?
SUNSHINE AND MOUNTAINS.
That's two. But they go in hand in hand. Summer in Vancouver is like vacation every day—even while you're working. You can get up. Play. Work. Play more. Eat. Play more. It's sunshine and joy all the time.
4. What's one thing you can't live without?
Trails and green juice. (I'm not good with these "one thing" questions. Clearly!)
Nature is my therapy. Vancouver has all sorts of it. I'd be a nut job without trails. Certifiably insane. Green juice is my fuel.
5. What's the best advice you've ever been given as freelancer/ self employed designer?
Be you. Do you. Unapologetically. Work comes to those who are authentic.
Thanks for being you Kim, and for being constant proof that the reason we choose is Vancouver is the stunning scenery and natural inspiration it offers.
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