Hello Emily! What’s cooking?

For my next interview, I set my mind on getting to know another self-employed local who runs her small business. I wanted to listen to her story: how it started, what inspires her, and what really goes on behind what you see on socials. So I was looking for someone who started her business from the ground up.

Emily quickly came to mind. I’ve been following Emily on Instagram for a while and was instantly hooked when I saw her tasty creations. She’s the local queen of pies. So funny story – turns out, she lives right around the corner from my place. So instead of having an online call or just sending off my questions, we met at a local coffee shop some 5 minutes walk away.

We got sidetracked a bazillion times BUT we finally got down to it. First, let’s get to know Emily a little more.

Who is Emily?

E: I run a small catering business. I have a 9-year-old son, Oliver. In my free time, I love to read and travel. I love to cook and eat – but I think that’s pretty standard haha! I’ve been working in the catering industry since I was 14 – a family friend of ours had a snack bar and on weekends and during the holidays, I used to help them out. I have nice, fond memories of that time and I remember her telling me: “If you want to be a chef you have to learn how to dice an onion properly.” That’s still etched in my mind!

I continued my studies at ITS and also lived in the UK for quite a while and worked at a couple different places. One of which was Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants there – which BTW was one of the worst experiences of my life. I then moved on to work as a Chef de Partie at an AA Rosette restaurant, and I loved it. Spent two years there before moving back to Malta.

What inspired you to start your own business?

E: By a lot of things! Although I love the catering industry, I decided that with a kid I didn’t want to be working weekends, holidays etc. So when Oliver was young, I studied finance and took on a 9 to 5 job within the financial industry. I enjoyed certain elements of it – I loved the stability and needed to have structure at the time. But I always knew that that was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Fast forward eight years in mid-Covid, I decided to take the plunge. It was a long time coming as I wanted to have a safety net of savings – this wasn’t a quick decision, I needed to feel prepared. And if anything, working in the financial sector taught me about planning, strategy, and how to take care of and grow my money. So I gave in my notice and January 2022 was my official start to self-employment. It was nuts!

Eats by Emily

Walk us through the food/cuisine that you specialise in?

E: This is a tough one. I think I’m still discovering this. Before, when I worked in catering I used to specialize in pastry – fine dining desserts and sweets. However, when I started my own thing. I wanted to branch out. So now, I love to prepare healthy, seasonal, and interesting meals. I also love pies and making not-so-popular pies. When I started making the pumpkin pie, I feel like no one in Malta had trialed this out. And after the third year, I have people who keep coming back for it. But right now I’m enjoying the process of experimenting, flavour matching, and learning new things.

How do you manage your time effectively as a self-employed chef?

E: I don’t haha. I have good weeks and ‘bad’ weeks. So ‘bad’ weeks are when I need to be cooking in the kitchen every single day. I say ‘bad’ – it’s very good for business but it’s not good for me to be in the right mindset. A good week is when I have a Mon-Wed-Fri cooking schedule and do admin, creating content, researching, and planning in between. My work is very seasonal. I would have non-stop months and other weeks where I can plan ahead for those busy months. This is something I’m learning now – that I need to plan for the following months during my less busy periods when I’m not in the kitchen. And, I try as much as I can, to take the weekend off – not always possible. I know this may sound cheesy, but ever since I started working for myself, I have never had a single Sunday evening blues and that is such a big relief for me. Sunday afternoon comes and I realise that I’m actually looking forward to Monday. Mind you, I don’t always wake up chirpy and whatever. But I had moments before in my other job where I was depressed in the mornings, not wanting to go to work. So I’m really grateful for that.

What are your future goals for your business & how are you planning on achieving them?

E: I love this! Immediate future goals are: finish the kitchen and move in! Also, this year I would love to officially launch a consistent meal plan service and eventually hire an employee. It’s not sustainable working 16 hours a day so I’m looking forward to all of this. Those are my goals for this year.

I know you’re just starting out yourself but what is one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s thinking of switching to self-employment?

E: A couple of things.

  1. It is not as glamorous as people make it out to be. It takes a lot of hard work and hours. It’s not this easy simple life some people think it to be.
  2. Take a leap of faith but it has to be calculated. It needs to be logical and makes sense financially. So have a business plan and run it by someone who understands. “If it’s meant to be, it will be” is not enough to leave a stable full time job.
  3. Have a safety net. Whether it’s working a couple of years to have an emergency fund, or discussing with your partner – whatever works for you, have that. There are going to be months were you’ll be in the red – a client leaves unexpectedly or because you’re not paid yet. It might mean skipping lavish holidays for a couple of years. You’re going to make sacrifices but I think that if you’re doing something you love, it’s a sacrifice that you’re willing to make.

Hey, is anything exciting happening for Mother’s Day?

E: I’m trialing some stuff for Mother’s Day. I have something in mind that it either works brilliantly or it won’t work at all! But I have this cute idea – I won’t say anything for now but will keep you updated!

QUICK questions with Emily

Sweet or savoury?
Sweet! I have the sweetest tooth!

Tea or Coffee?

Favourite film?
To be fair I’m not so much a film person. I always fall asleep during films so I don’t get to the end of them.

Early bird or night owl?
Early bird for sure. I wake up at 5am and after 8pm I don’t function.

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?
OMG, I have so many. How am I going to choose one? Top three?
1. Visit Mexico
2. Adopt a senior dog
3. I honestly want to travel – a lot

Loved our chat Em & look forward to our next coffee date!

Go Follow!

Till next time,
Amanda x

Hey! What’s new Limo?

I wanted to have more interviews this year but with running my own business, sprinting after a toddler, and being an active council member of a local NGO, I must admit that my plate has never been more full.

Nevertheless, I managed to meet up with the amazing Elisa to talk about her business. Elisa is the brains behind The Limo Hub 🐕. I am positive that you have seen her cute dachshund on Instagram by now. He is the star of his own ‘show’!

Elisa is such a passionate and creative person. We went off track a couple of times during the interview (it was more like a coffee meet-up), but that happens when the conversation is that good. So, without further ado, this is (partly) what we talked about:

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you started.

E: I started studying Art & Design and always wanted to do my own thing. I have been working in Marketing for quite a while now and dipped in the corporate world. I then left my job to pursue a marketing career and decided to go freelance. It’s when I started The Limo Hub, back in October 2017.

How did The Limo Hub come about?

E: I wanted to create something unique, personal to me, and easy on the ears. I wanted something simple and that is how the idea of The Limo Hub was born. And I have my own model, Limo, who got used to seeing me with a camera by now. He enjoys it when he’s in the mood. I usually have lots of treats on the side. Everyone seems to think it’s just that one shot and I nailed it. You should see my camera roll! You’d think my phone is Limo’s 😅

Limo wearing Santa Paws bow tie

To put you in the picture, at The Limo Hub you can shop for custom-made bow ties, Dachshund merch, and other dog accessories like matching harnesses & leashes, collars, and shampoos.

E: It is important for me to have organic or partly organic products. For instance, some people use baby shampoo for their pets which is bad for their dog’s skin. A dog’s skin PH level differs from ours and it could result in irritation. That is why I make sure to bring over reliable, tried, and tested brands only.

What is your advice to someone thinking about starting on their own?

E: Ask yourself: What is your end game? What is it that you want to do and why? Do you want to make money? Do you want to feel good about what you are doing? Because these are different avenues to take.

I wasn’t surrounded by people who owned their business so I didn’t really know where to start. For instance, everyone mentions the business plan – you need to have a business plan – but when you’re just starting, the words are English but you don’t know what to make of them. If you’re starting a business doing something you love (and not just purely for money-making), make it your own. Don’t expect a big return until you get your foot in the door because it takes a while until you build yourself.

And network. Networking is key. It might be nerve-wracking but it works. Get out there and introduce yourself.

So, tell me. What’s on your bucket list?

E: I want to represent various brands and possibly in the future, I would love to design my own harnesses and pet accessories. I also want my own store, brick & mortar – it’s something that I really dream of having. One step at a time!

You in three words

E: Bubbly, open, plainspoken

Elisa and Gemma from @letspawtymalta have been working on something new and exciting. They have just launched the perfect handmade and homemade Christmas gift for your furry family member. I have already ordered one for Nina (obviously) and will be sharing stories once I have my hands on it.

What’s in the stocking?

🐾 homemade yummy biscuits
🐾 a themed mug for a nice hot cocoa
🐾 dog toy
🐾 an interactive activity for hooman and pup to enjoy together!

Next week, they will also be at the Nice Things Market at is-Suq tal-Belt, Valletta. I’ll be dropping by for some last-minute stocking fillers. Shall I see you there?

Saturday, 11 December + Sunday 12 December

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next, Elisa!

Show your support & go follow 🥰

Amanda x

#inthespotlight @Gary Bugeja

Getting back on track with my mini-interviews is one of my top goals for 2020. First guest this year: my super talented brother, Gary. Biased, you say? Well, take a look at his work first. But yes, I have to admit, I am a little 😋

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Why did you decide to be a fashion photographer?

 I don’t think there was ever a decision – it just happened organically. I have always gravitated towards photographing people and fashion has always been a major source of inspiration in all of my projects. So I think I found myself evolving and focusing more on fashion photography without thinking too much about it.

Tell us more about your photography

My photography is always narrating a story.

A: Short and sweet, I must say

Proudest moment?

Being chosen by Tommy Hilfiger International to shoot the official Tommy Jeans digital campaign. They came all the way from Amsterdam to direct the shoot and it was both nerve-wracking and surreal at the same time.

What is your favourite photograph so far? Why?

This is one of my favourite photographs because everything came together perfectly. Cassandra is an extremely talented local actor who wanted to be portrayed in a different light. Together with Malcolm (styling), Neville (hair) & Hannah (makeup), we did a great job. This was taken for the Sunday Circle.

Gary Bugeja

What would be a dream collaboration for you?

An absolute dream collaboration would be with the genius Alessandro Michele and photograph the Gucci Campaign. I also would literally DIE if I had to work with artists that I listen to on repeat.

Not that I don’t know the answers to these already. BUT, super-quick questions to share with the rest:

Tea or coffee?


Favourite film?

Requiem for a dream

Would you rather read minds or the future?


One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Work on an editorial abroad.

What inspires you?

I get my inspiration from personal experiences, music and literature and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

Go follow!

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#inthespotlight @Elizabeth Cortis

#inthespotlight - amandalia

My passion for writing led me to Elizabeth earlier this year. I was writing an article for the Times of Malta last March and Elizabeth helped me shed light on being a mumpreneur.

Mumpreneur: the modern superhero

After our virtual chatting, we then had the pleasure to meet up at Nakita‘s book launch event. In case you missed her interview, click here!

Elizabeth is one of the most interesting persons I have met thus far. She is positive, driven, and extremely focused. Our conversation flowed easily over a cappuccino in a quaint coffee shop in the heart of Rabat. It was a nice way to start the day; especially on a Monday morning.

I started off with what would seem like a basic question.

What does proofreading involve?

When I proofread, I’m improving what can be improved and eliminating any errors. It’s the perfect version of your own work. I like to refer to it as the four-eye principle; having someone else look at your work with fresh eyes.

Technically speaking, proofreading takes place during the final phase and involves checking the written work for typing errors, missed words, punctuation marks etc.

I find that most people confuse proofreading with copyediting. The latter involves sentence structure. Say you’re writing your dissertation and the ideas are still unclear or not flowing. Sometimes, clients mean they need both. Nowadays, proofreading is a requirement and an essential part of the academic career.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset     Processed with VSCO with a6 preset


What is unique about your business?

I set myself apart from others who work on proofreading as part-timers and have an unrelated full-time job. Don’t get me wrong, they have my respect! But, this is my passion and my focus 24/7.

I approach it as a professional. That is, I’m fully aware of the responsibilities involved. For most students, thesis-writing can be a stressful moment and I acknowledge and respect that – that is why I meet deadlines, read guidelines and work to the best of my ability.

My 11 years of experience provides me with not just knowledge but also an understanding of how things are done. For example, I know what universities expect and can see things from a much broader perspective than the client does.


What does a typical working day look like for you?

I have to balance my two roles; a mother and a business owner. I have two little kids who are still in their formative years and who need a lot of my time. On the other hand, I’m a business owner; not just a proofreader or book editor. So, I have to run and further develop my business as well.

Typically, I work around my kids’ schedule. I’m also lucky to have the full support of my family, especially my husband. So, if I have to put in more effort or schedule meetings, they back me up every time. I believe that the role of a mumpreneur is managing your business as well as your family without denying yourself anything. For instance, you need the time for yourself because it’s important not to experience a burnout.


When did you decide to take the leap? Was it something you have always intended for yourself?

Running my own business has always been my dream. I’m an ambitious person and always try to think of ways to develop and grow my business further. I spent 10 years of my life teaching English; which I loved. But I wanted more. It was a huge leap. I remember my friends questioning my sanity.

Quitting a safe job was not easy but I don’t regret it because I’m doing something I’ve always wished to do. And that is, spending quality time with my children. Up until they were three years old, I still worked but less intensely because they were my sole focus. I don’t believe a mother should forget about her aspirations just because she becomes a mother. The will to work, aspire and improve are all great skills to pass on to your kids. They see you as alive, driven and passionate about your work. We have our crazy days, but we make it work.


What is your biggest failure? Your biggest success?

What is a failure anyway? I am a very positive person. I don’t acknowledge failures; they’re small setbacks. It’s all about how you look at it. I see it as learning something new about your skills or about your limits. You either going to give it another go and be more prepared or decide that it’s not something that you would like to pursue. Either way, you have grown. Self-growth and improvement mean everything to me.

I believe that small everyday successes are still successes. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are challenging drives me onwards. Another one of my biggest successes is seeing my kids grow, and not just physically. Looking back, I feel extremely satisfied that I managed to give them my all.


What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

Find time for yourself and set small goals. Don’t set big targets and overstress yourself. I try to take things one step at a time to stay motivated with short-term goals. Try creating a personal plan and keep in mind that not everything will go as planned either. Don’t close up shop just because you’re having one bad day. Be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

That is when I realised how important it is to be part of a support network. If you’re in need of help, don’t et your pride get in the way. Know your limitations and accept the help you’re being offered.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in every area. Outsourcing can save you time because trying to do everything on your own is a struggle.

Join the Group: Malta Mumpreneurs Network


Three (3) tools you would recommend to anyone starting their own business?

Google Keep – for your to-do lists. Or, more likely in my case, the I WILL DO list.

Self- Motivation techniques – I believe in these techniques. E.g. when I’m tired, I try and work five minutes more; just a step further to improve self-discipline.

Take mental breaks – You need your off days. When I don’t have tight deadlines, I take pleasure in reading and listening to motivational business speakers.

Oh, and coffee! Haha!

Quick questions 🙂

Tea or coffee?

Tea to relax, Coffee to work

Books or movies?


Time travel or teleportation?

Teleportation I’m a very realistic person – li I just leave and visit different countries/places. I love travelling.

Winter or Summer? 


Adventurous or Cautious?

Adventurous; I love doing things out of my comfort zone.


Go follow!


🌐 www.proofreadingmalta.com

Finding Inspiration: Interview with Caroline Ciantar-Barbara

It is safe to say that one of the hottest topics hogging the headlines is property. We have been debating the inflated prices, questioning the existence of a property bubble and shaking our heads in resignation at every block of apartments we see in construction.

But, in this article, published today on the @Times of Malta, I deliberately chose not to go there. Instead, I reached out to the talented interior designer, Caroline Ciantar-Barbara, to learn more about what comes after investing in a new home.

Get today’s e-paper to read the interview: Click here

[Property & Construction Supplement]

Check out Caroline’s work:  🌐 https://www.ccb.com.mt/

Go follow!