Merry-body-yoga-pilates

Turns out, I am a woman in tech…

I never really thought I fell into the category of ‘women in tech’. Apparently, I do! Hey Emma, I think you do too!

Right about now, we are 1-2 months out from launching our brand new MerryBody App.

The difference with this new version of the App (there is a huge difference) is that it is being built as a React Native app… and I guess another difference is that I am managing the build of it! 

Without going too techy, for the user, this will mean a smoother, faster, more custom experience. For the creators (that’s us!) it means we can pretty much have no limits when it comes to what we want our new MerryBody App to do.

emma-carla-papas-the-merrymaker-sisters

It’s damn exciting. I am very impatient and I want it done! But trust me, it is going to be worth the wait.

If you’d told me 8 years ago that I’ll be running an online company with my sister, with a core team of 4 and an extended team of 9 (13 if I count our favourite baristas), I would have said: Bring. It. On.

Running a business has always been something Emma and I wanted to do (we grew up watching our Dad run his own business… and his family ran/runs businesses, and Mum’s Dad had a business… it’s totally in our blood).

When I think back to our childhood I can recall multiple businesses we created, from making and selling jewelry and greeting cards, to giving Mum hand massages on the couch for 50 cents (we charged too little for this!).

The point is, that working for someone else was never really something we wanted to do.

And don’t get me wrong, we were good employees, we worked damn hard for those dollars… but when we found our ‘bliss’ the good employee faded away, only to be replaced with the never-gonna-give-up entrepreneur (heck yes).

This Merrymaker Sister blog thing started in February 2013. With a simple google search: what is a blog, followed by how to start a blog, the journey began.

ProBlogger was our best friend and we read and read and read and read.

Our friend from work, Fiona, helped us build a site on blogspot. Then we found out WordPress was ‘the go’ so we paid someone $200 to build us a WordPress blog.

We bought the domain name themerrymakersisters.com, we got a logo* designed for $100 and we were all set. 

*if you are just starting out, don’t spend money on a logo, just choose a simple font.

We’d write daily posts and create daily recipes.

Seriously, go back to our oldest recipes and check out the photography skills (you know that old saying, done is better than perfect, this is a great example of just that!). Serisouly, for a laugh check out this photo or this photo

Those recipes we used to share were our dinner for that same evening. So we’d cook, and serve it up and be like HURRY UP GET THE SHOT WE ARE STARVINGGGGG!

We love/d blogging so much. We love/d writing blogs and we love/d learning about blogging and online business itself.

We had an equal passion for our subject matter AND also learning how to share our message even better.

Yes! We are those odd people who LOVE marketing. 

It turns out it’s a winning combination when:

you love the thing you do
PLUS
you love learning how to best share the thing you love to do
EQUALS
very good for running your own business.

We’d go to ProBlogger events (I think we attended 4 all up). At the first event, we couldn’t believe that there were people out there who make a living from blogging! It was a feeling of wow, we could actually make this thing… a thing!

It was also at these events where Emma finally stopped referring to SEO as CEO ?‍♀️ Ahhh the memories. 

And so we’d absorb all of this new information and implement it right away. Test it out. Learn. We watched (and still do) MANY YouTube tutorials and simply make the stuff happen (it’s all been done before and chances are there is always a step by step tutorial waiting for you!).

At another ProBlogger we sat next to Melanie Perkins (CEO and Co-Founder of Canva) for lunch. We asked her what she did, she gave us her card and told us all about Canva and the epic online design tool that it was (and now is). We took the card and told her “we prefer PicMonkey”… ha! BTW: we use Canva now. 

Real-life business events have really been some of the milestone moments in our 7 years of business. And not necessarily what we learn… but WHO we meet.

Like Dan Norris…  he really helped mentor us to understand the world of online business and content marketing. He also gave really harsh but necessary feedback. 

I can remember we’d been working with some designers and developers to rebuild our site and brand. They completely effed it up and on what should have been launch day, both Emma and I were crying in the car park in front of the beach.

WTAF do we do?! 

It was a mess. 

So Dan took us out for cocktails and Japanese and then we all came home (slightly sozzled after 3 Gin Gardens each) stayed up all night rebuilding the site.

It launched right on time. Woo-HOO!

Another time we tagged along to San Francisco (as you do), travelled in a Tesla from LA and San Fran (as you do!) so Dan could sell his online business to a Silicon Valley company (ummm say what?!)… this was a guy who took 7 days to make this business in Australia… worked his butt off… and then sold it to a company in Silicon Valley…

Again, our eyes opened up to the possibility of what we could do.

The possibility of what The Merrymaker Sisters and MerryBody could be. 

Or Angela who is business coach for women, we love that we can bounce ideas off each other and once again she is a no BS kind of lady and so generous with her time, ideas and energy.

We met Jarrod in the Phillippines at Chris Ducker’s Tropical Think Tank (we met Dan there too) back in 2015. It was an epic mastermind of 50 amazing brains (in fact, we met sooo many of our now close internet business friends at this event). Before we went, we didn’t even know what a mastermind was but 5 days in the Philippines sounded fun. So we used ALL our savings and bought 2 tickets.

Since then Jarrod has been our ‘Internet God’. Always open to sharing his ideas, feedback, and knowledge with us. Like a fairy god mother you could say, but for the Internet, and a fairy god father, we guess?

Jarrod has taught us that having someone believe in you as much as you believe in yourself (sometimes even more) is extremely powerful and motivating.

He managed the build of our Get Merry Recipe App (the one I almost gave up on), created the first MerryBody App, and then 3 months ago told me that I needed to build a Native React App version of MerryBody.

He said, “if you wanna be up with the best, then you need to do this.”

We DO want to be the best. That has always been our goal. To do our best. To create our best. To make MerryBody one of the best fitness apps in the world.

I was really afraid. The way Jarrod was explaining the build of the new App… it was like he was speaking another language! 

And really, he was. App language.

At one stage we did a bit of research into the option of getting someone other than me to manage the App build.

Well yes, that could happen but the downside would mean we’d be locked in to paying some company to manage our App FOREVER and they couldn’t even provide some of the functionality that was on our wish list.

A fair few tears later, a lot of pep talks with Emma, worried about whether or not I was capable of pulling this off, and a message from Jarrod saying: “YOU CAN DO IT… plus, you have me and you can ask me any questions.”

I took a deep breath… decided to believe in myself and began the journey of creating an App. From scratch. 

I made this decision 3 months ago. To embark on the massive project of rebuilding the MerryBody App.

I’ve been working with a team of 8 to make this happen.

Jarrod: my brains trust.

Tasha: the epic designer.

Gao: the front end/user experience developer.

Jerry: the back end developer.

Moch: the desktop developer

Emma: taking on every other task in the business while I make this App (thanks Sis) ?

Rose and Sheila: our amazing VAs who have managed the migration of the 100s of classes (AKA huge freaking job).

The first stage was the design phase. This meant creating mock-ups of EVERY single page the App would need (I used Canva for this, love how stuff always makes sense backward, right?!).

There were about 44 pages all up. Just think… you need: a sign up page, sign in page, home page, class page, calendar etc etc. EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE needed a mock-up and a final design.

During that design phase, I had to try and picture how the App would work. I had to think about the user experience. It needed to be smooth, seamless, and intuitive.

There were so many conversations with Jarrod over Voxer.

He’d be like but you’re missing a whole page there.

Where does the user click?!

I had to imagine an App that wasn’t even real yet. How a user would click, and where their eyes would go first, second, third… would they know to scroll? Would they know to click? Do we need an arrow here? 

All of these thoughts, before we had even started to build the App.

This was just to work out the LOOK and FEEL of the App!

Once the design of the Phone version done, we moved to design the tablet version.

In between all of that, we realized we needed to re-design the whole desktop version AND rebuild it too while we’re at it (hey curveball) but of course, the curveball was a blessing, this means that our Members will now get access to a totally beautiful, easy to use desktop version of MerryBody too. 

Still on the to-do list is the design of the Apple TV version, but it is coming (which again, is so freaking exciting).

After the design, it was time to start development (this is the phase we are still in).

My job? To explain to the development team exactly what each page of the app does AND where the App pulls the content from.

I’m using a tool called Jira, to project manage this development phase. 

To pull the content to put into the App, I needed to create what the tech world calls: ‘endpoints’.

These are API endpoints that look like mumbo jumbo URLs that then bring back thousands of pages of coded data. 

I need to make sure that the endpoint pulls EVERYTHING the developer’s needs. This is hard and it takes time.

For example, one afternoon I spent an hour trying to work out how to get the code to pull the feature image. Haha. Patience is definitely key when it comes to this kind of work.

The backend developer creates the really tricky custom endpoints (endpoints that don’t even exist yet!) BUT if it’s not custom, then it’s my job, through trial and error, to work out what the endpoint should be.

Each and every part of the page needs to be pulled into the code results. From the video to the description, to the little icon that says ’10 mins’.

Once we have the endpoint finalised, the front end developer works their magic. They make buttons clickable, and videos playable. They change colours, sizes, move things, makes thing scroll… really, they make stuff happen!

Each day I get updates on a change, a page that’s been completed (or questions about an endpoint)… my work hours have completely changed, as our developer is based in China! So Gao (our developer) now joins me and Joel (my BF) for dinner often… haha!

Then I get to test it! I step into the shoes of a MerryBody Member… does it all work ok, does it make sense, is it simple? Are we missing a back button here? Etc. etc. We make final changes and checks to ensure the new MerryBody App will be next level epic.

Right now, we are working on a custom ‘don’t break the chain’ tracker. It means members will be able to track what days they workout, meditate, and for how many minutes. I want to be able to tally this up and reward members when they reach milestones… (it’s VERY cool). This kind of feature is known to increase accountability and motivation and is something our MerryBody members had high on their wish list. 

Our goal with this new App is to make it easy to move your body and meditate. To make your online MerryBody experience enjoyable and easeful. To be able to best guide you to feel at home in your body through the power of Yoga, Pilates and Meditation.

So we are still a little out from the launch date and remember, then we build the tablet and TV version too… 

But we are so close I can smell the excitement!

So it turns out… I am a woman in tech… and I bloody LOVE it!

I’ll be sharing more updates on the App process as they happen! I can’t wait for you to experience MerryBody 2.0!

Always merrymaking,

Carla

MERRYBODY

Move your body, find your joy,
and reignite your love for life.

MerryBody

Move your body, find your joy,
and reignite your love for life.