Local leaders – Emma and Carla Papas (The Merrymaker Sisters)

Amy McPhillips 25 June 2015

emma and carla papas

Canberra sisters Emma and Carla Papas quit their public service jobs last year to focus on their food and lifestyle blog, The Merrymaker Sisters, full-time. With their first hardcopy book to go on sale this week, they share the business lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Before Emma and Carla founded The Merrymaker Sisters in 2012, they say they were caught up in an “obsessive whirlwind” of fad diets, calorie counting and disordered eating. This changed when Emma was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, discovered the paleo diet from a work colleague and, together with Carla, started sharing recipes online.

Since then, the sisters have created a series of paleo ebooks, and are currently putting the finishing touches on their self-published hardcopy book, Make It Merry.

“We originally thought that maybe we could get a publisher, but we did some research and knew a few blogger friends who had published their own books, and decided to do it ourselves,” Carla explains.

“There are so many things that you don’t think about when you’re self-publishing a hardcopy book. We’d created all of the content, taken photographs of the food and had a designer make it look great, but we didn’t realise that we needed to do things like choose the type or thickness of the paper. We’d hoped to have the book out in May, and it’s nearly July, so it did take longer than we’d anticipated.

“We winged it a little and didn’t go to anyone else for help, so my advice to others would be to find someone who has self-published their own and talk to them about the process that they follow. Not feeling alone in your project always makes things seem more achievable.”

merrymaker sisters pancakes

Their new book, Make It Merry, will replace the five other Merrymaker Sister ebooks. Carla explains that this is because her and Emma’s approach to the paleo lifestyle, photography skills and dietary preferences have changed since those books were originally published.

“When people buy our ebooks now, we’re still really excited, but we also know that they don’t show the entire Merrymaker lifestyle or way of thinking, because we’ve changed since the books were first published.

“Our mentors have told us that if you’re not proud of something you’ve written, take it down. You might lose income for a while, but if you aren’t proud of it, you’re not going to be promoting it as well as you might otherwise do, and you’ll be losing sales for a completely different reason.

“We’ve evolved and we’re not as happy with the photos, and there are a few recipes that use more sweetener than what we now cook with, or contain ingredients that we no longer use,” she says.

merrymakers paleo spaghetti bolognese

Make It Merry has over 70 of Emma and Carla’s favourite recipes that are free of gluten, grains, refined sugar and dairy, and are quick and easy to make.

Carla’s advice to others looking to turn their passion into a dream job is to develop a mindset where anything is possible

“If you want to make a website or you have an amazing idea for running your own business, just go for it. There is always a way to make it happen.”

To celebrate the release of Make It Merry, Emma and Carla are running a $4000 giveaway, which includes prizes such as gym memberships, jewellery, juicers and healthy pantry essentials. Find out how to enter and checkout all the prizes up for grabs here.

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