Born and bred Canberran sisters Emma and Carla Papas, the Merrymaker Sisters, have always had a passion for creating things that bring joy to people’s lives.
When they were young girls, they had their first “business” where they sold friendship bracelets on the street outside their home in Fadden.
When they hit age 10 and 13, they took themselves more seriously and started a jewellery business called By Emma and Carla, and with the help of their parents, they sold their pieces at the trash and treasure markets.
“We didn’t really know back then but looking back we were really into business and creating something,” Carla said.
The sister duo now has a successful online business called The Merrymaker Sisters and have more than 66,000 Instagram followers.
From self-publishing two recipe books, to having their own podcast show, their most recent project is MerryBody where they offer online yoga, Pilates and meditation sessions.
Merrymaker Sisters journey to their bliss
In 2012, Emma and Carla discovered a different way of living and started sharing their journey on Instagram, and on a blog where they would share their favourite healthy recipes, and thoughts on dieting and fitness.
Their Instagram profile started getting interest; suddenly they found they had 1,000 followers and thought it could turn into something big.
“This was when Instagram had only just taken off, the golden years of Instagram,” Carla said.
“It also made us happy and brought us a lot of joy, sharing what we were doing. So, we just decided to continue, and really that’s what we’ve done since day one is share our story and our journey.”
It wasn’t until 2014 that Carla and Emma decided to take a leap, quit their public service jobs, and take the Merrymaker Sisters to the next level.
“We always say when you have found something, you really owe it to yourself to follow it and give it a go. Give it your best shot,” Carla said.
“We didn’t have a safety net, we didn’t have a plan B, it just had to work, and we made it work”.
The Merrymaker Sisters journey started from a place of obsession with dieting, calorie restriction, followed by the paleo diet. As the years went on, their relationship with that lifestyle changed, and so did their business.
“Now we eat pasta, we eat gluten, we realised the obsessiveness of dieting is about diet culture, and we don’t actually want to be part of that anymore. It wasn’t our passion, we didn’t want to talk about it anymore,” Carla said.
In 2017, the sisters both completed their yoga and Pilates teacher training and realised that’s what became their worlds.
“All we were talking about was yoga and Pilates, and we realised this was our new bliss, our new joy,” Carla said.
“From there on we created MerryBody, which is what we’ve been doing for the past three years, which is online yoga, Pilates and meditation, with the core mission of inspiring self-acceptance, self-kindness, and self-respect. Rather than body transformation, it’s not about that, it’s about being amazing just as we are”.
The relationship between their online business and social media
In the early days, Instagram was where it was for the Merrymaker Sisters.
“It was huge engagement, we had a big following, but as everything changes you might get less engagement. Right now, we don’t have a whole lot of engagement, but that matters less than the business you’re creating,” Carla said.
The sisters said they understand that social media can change in just a click and, as online business owners, they must have their own website and not rely purely on Facebook or Instagram.
“As we’ve seen things can change so quickly, things can be pulled right out from underneath you,” Carla said.
“Our focus was always on our home on the internet, which is our website, our podcast. It’s the content we own that we’re connecting, that can reach some new people.”
The sisters credit their social media growth to consistency of being on the platform.
“You have to be on there to be seen, so if you’re not posting and you’re not actually contributing, how do you expect people to find you?” Carla said.
“I feel like that really is the core message, it’s consistency and persistence, you keep going. There’s no secret.
“If Instagram and Facebook decided to go away, we’d still be okay. The most important thing is make sure you have your eggs in lots of different baskets, but not everywhere.
“We don’t have to be everywhere, you focus on the platforms you enjoy and like being on, because otherwise it’s going to be a drag and you’re not going to want to do it,” Carla said.
Carla and Emma love sharing their business with the world, whether it’s on their social media, on their podcast, or on their online blog.
“A business that brings more good to the world, in this world where there is so much hate, sadness and heartbreak, it feels really great to feel like we’re contributing something that is positive and uplifting into the world. It’s very exciting.”
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