Case Studies

Case Study 1: Empowering Women in Business

Nicole McClaren - An inspirational story of a Canadian Indigenous Entrepreneur

Vanessa Cook

By Vanessa Cook – Douglas College Student (Feb 2022)

As a mother, an immigrant, a Canadian, and a woman in business, I have followed many different women entrepreneurs, as a source of inspiration, and Nicole McClaren is definitely an entrepreneur to celebrate.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada was created to bring awareness and provide people affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system an opportunity to have a voice. At a time where Canada needed to come together and celebrate our diversity, Nicole, an indigenous Canadian and member of the Metis Nation of BC started a business to bring awareness to the power of inclusion through reading.

When Raven Reads was first formed, it was a book club to share stories written by indigenous people. Since then, Nicole, who is the Founder & CEO has evolved the book club into an Indigenous Subscription Box Service, shipping their elegantly packaged products to customers of all ages. With an emphasis on indigenous writers and creators, Raven Reads has created a platform that services customers globally, leveraging the power of technology with their website and ecommerce capabilities. Their product portfolio includes beautifully crafted boxes decorated with Indigenous art, with each box including:

  • a book written/illustrated by an Indigenous author;
  • a letter;
  • Indigenous culture teachings from around the world; and
  • giftware items from Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Raven Reads also has a line of age-appropriate boxes developed specifically for children, as well as for companies looking for gifts (Corporate Gift Boxes).

Customers in Canada pay no shipping fees and all customers can subscribe seasonally, bi-annually, or annually. Their business model provides the option to cancel at any time, making it easy for people to experience their products without being tied into a contract.

Raven Reads was featured in BC Business and Best Health Magazine, and Nicole was awarded the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the Indigenous Entrepreneurship Awards in November 2021. To learn more about these awards, and other Canadian Indigenous Entrepreneurs, please watch the video listed here. You will be moved and inspired by the music, the language, the majestic landscape of our vast and diverse country and the power of the words of the song, Remember Me.

“I want to show Indigenous girls and women that they can scale multi-million dollar businesses with big impact,” said Nicole McLaren. “Winning this award is a recognition for the blood (cardboard cuts), sweat, and tears I have invested in this entrepreneurial journey and is an important occasion to celebrate how far we have come.” (McClaren, 2021)

In a Canada Export article as part of the Trade Commissioner Service through the Government of Canada, Raven Reads is looking to expand globally, and Nicole has leveraged the Trade Accelerator Program to help develop an export plan.

To illustrate the global stigma for woman in business, this Ted Talk (Tzemach Lemmon, 2011) brings awareness of the challenges but also the opportunities that exist, when women are empowered. In addition to running Raven Reads, Nicole founded the Indigenous Women’s Business Network, a non-profit organization to empower indigenous women in BC to be successful in business.

The Inclusive Futures Indigenous Engagement in Canada’s Workforce (Davey et al., 2020) white paper highlights the value that Indigenous people bring to Canada’s overall Economic Development being the fastest-growing and youngest demographic in Canada.

There is much more work to be done to ensure Canada recognizes and embraces a fully inclusive and diverse culture and with Canada’s aging population, women and indigenous people need empowerment to start new businesses to aid in the overall economic development of Canada. Nicole McClaren is a powerful role- model, and her success story needs to be shared with all indigenous peoples, and more broadly, all girls, women, and entrepreneurs globally.

“What makes entrepreneurs special is that they see opportunities where everyone else sees obstacles. Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, so they’re often undaunted — and even excited — by problems.” Arlene Dickenson (Dickenson, 2021).


Hirose, A. (2021) BC Business 49 (5), 89

Tzemach Lemmon, G. (2011, December). Women entrepreneurs, example not exception [Video]. Ted.

Davey, J., Giang, V., McCale,A., (2020) Inclusive Futures, Indigenous Engagement in Canada’s Workforce


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Fundamentals of Business Copyright © 2022 by Vanessa Cook is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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