Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in cosmetics but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Barbara Marengo, founder of Beba Botanica, located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Does lathering your body with rich foamy cleansers handcrafted with luxurious botanical oils and butters appeal to you? What about changing the world while you shower?

BEBA Botanica creates cosmetics with a conscience for people who choose to make a difference - building sustainable communities and caring for our planet while offering our clients clean affordable skincare enhanced with functional ingredients from nature for optimal health and wellness.

Tell us about yourself

Created with kindness at heart…What started as a simple bar of soap shaped in the likeness of a hippopotamus is now a range of sustainable vegan cosmetics which have at their heart the desire to make a difference across the globe.

The community spirit of uBuntu inspired Barbara to create Hippo Soaps to raise money for an indigent community in South Africa that was severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic and local communities in need here in Victoria, BC. Proudly Canadian and determined to make a meaningful difference, our clean cosmetics are locally made from globally sourced ethical ingredients and packaged in plastic-free sustainable packaging.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Imagine moving across the world to a new country and starting a business as an emigrant, months before the world is hit with a global pandemic. More than a little panicked about my financial security, I refocused my attention to those who have less than I did and set about trying to make a difference. Hippo Soaps went into the world with love and kindness, raising more than $4000 for those less fortunate, and my new business was born.

But then tragedy struck as my warehouse was set on fire by a young homeless person. BEBA Botanica was put on ice. My hippos and I were now also homeless. Finding the inner strength to start again surrounded by uncertainty and debt was way harder than starting initially—no credit rating, no assets, and no family here in Canada. But I was surrounded by a community of friends who believed in what I was doing. Together, we were able to reset and start again. This was definitely the biggest accomplishment I have ever experienced as a business owner.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The most challenging thing that comes with being a business owner is the responsibility of managing staff during a global pandemic. On top of all the challenges that come with a new business, we are faced with social justice debates around vaccinations and policy.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. The key to success is GRIT.
  2. Hindsight is 20/20
  3. Fail fast and fail often - it makes you a better human.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Alice in Wonderland is my biggest inspiration. I aim to believe in at least 7 impossible things before breakfast each day.

These are currently:

  1. It is possible to celebrate our differences as humans.
  2. We can change the world while we shower
  3. You do not need a plastic bottle for your shampoo or body wash
  4. Climate change is real, and we can reverse its effects if we act now
  5. We do not need to test cosmetics on animals to know they are safe for human use
  6. It is possible to source ingredients from communities at a fair price
  7. Every human should have access to clean drinking water

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.