Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skin care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nicolina Kolster, Founder of Matka Botanicals, located in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.

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

Matka Botanicals is a Vancouver Island-based vegan beauty brand dedicated to providing clean and cruelty-free solutions to the beauty market while actively defending animal rights through education, awareness, and monthly donations. Matka is the Finnish word for journey - a never-ending journey to design, research, source, formulate, create, and provide products you can trust and that are safe for you, your little ones, the animals, and the planet.

Our customers tend to be mostly women between 25-55 who are looking for clean and sustainable skincare products in an affordable price range.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Southern Finland on a small hobby farm with my mom and dad, two younger siblings, three horses, two goats, three cats, and two dogs. The early introduction to herbalism, natural beauty (my mother was an aesthetician and aromatherapist as well), organic farming, a love for animals, and entrepreneurial parents laid the ground for my burning passion for clean, homemade skincare and, later also, animal rights activism. There is a big demand for cleaner, kinder, and more sustainable beauty, so the business just kind of landed in my lap several years ago as friends started asking me to make them clean skincare products after constantly seeing how well and nourished my own skin looked, without using any big brand products. It was a very organic decision to launch Matka Botanicals - a place for fully transparent, clean, and vegan products, completely independently owned and operated, without the influence of big investors.

For myself, my biggest flex was always paying obscene amounts of money for high-quality skincare products, so my biggest motivation is to keep our prices in a very affordable range without compromising the quality of ingredients. Not a single one of our products goes over $50.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Overcoming my people-pleaser tendencies and coming to the realization that I cannot help everybody, no matter how badly I want to. There will always be people who do not share my belief systems, and that's ok. And, obviously, paving a successful path for my business so that back in 2020, when I got laid off from my actual job like so many others, I had something to fall back on. And I haven't looked back ever since.

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

I'm sure every business owner says the same thing but maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Matka Botanicals is my child, greatest hobby, and livelihood; thus, naturally, a lot of my time goes towards it, especially as I'm running it from my home. Setting very clear boundaries and work schedules for myself and "forcing" myself to actually take weekends off is the only way I can sustain that balance.

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

  1. For any new entrepreneurs and business owners out there, my #1 tip would be to hire a bookkeeper from day one; this will save you so much headache with taxes, scaling, profits, cash flow, saving, and repaying debt (if you have any).
  2. Hire a professional packaging designer from the get-go; having professional-looking products will drastically help you stand out from your competition when first starting out and also builds trust between you and the customer, seeing that you have done the work and are taking your business seriously.
  3. FOLLOW YOUR GUT! As you are working with other people, designers, retailers, influencers, bookkeepers, etc., follow your instincts and learn to turn away from an opportunity that doesn't feel right for you, even if that means turning away from a big payout. Your mental health is the most important thing when running your business, so prioritize that any way you can!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.