Hello! My name is Raphaela, otherwise known as Social Raph. Welcome to my website!
In 2018, I decided to build my own website as a way to express and share things about my life: my dreams and aspirations, thoughts, advice, passions, and everything else that this beautiful life has to offer. This is as real as it gets, and I promise to always be 110% authentic.
If you’re new to my life, hello! Here are some general facts about me: I am 23 years old, living right outside the beautiful city of Boston. I graduated from Assumption College with a bachelor’s in Business. I’m a first-generation college graduate, which has made me and my family extremely proud. Throughout college, I have experience working in various fields such as social media marketing, digital marketing, traditional marketing, Facebook/Instagram advertising, and market research.
Now you get why I pretty much live, breathe, and eat social media, right? This is what led to the creation of Social Raph!
In my spare time, I read books and take pictures. Education is something that I take very seriously. My goal is to learn something new every single day. I guess this stems from my career. Photography is something I’m extremely passionate about. When I think about photographing something, I have a vision for the way that I want it captured and edited. Everything good comes from vision and strategy.
I fluently speak 3 languages: English, Romanian, and Albanian. Throughout high school and college, I studied Latin Honors, so technically I know 4 languages, but sadly it’s a dead language…
I’m a city girl. Words cannot describe how much I love the rush of the city. There’s something about it that invigorates me. It makes me feel like I’m home. Manhattan and Boston have my heart, but the ocean has my soul. I’m convinced that there’s a gravitational pull when it comes to me and the sea. The ocean has a significant way of soothing your mind and body. The balance between these two has always kept me grounded.
When I’m not traveling, taking photos, or reading a book, you can find me helping out at my family’s business! http://www.bageltimeusa.com
I have also started taking clients for social management and content creation! A passion project of mine that started a couple of years ago. If you or someone you know wants to connect with me on this topic, please do not hesitate to reach out! I could spend hours talking about this.
There you have it. Everything (mostly) that there is to know about me. Thank you for sticking around and taking the time to read this post! I’m thankful for all my friends and family for giving me that extra push. Words can’t even begin to describe how extremely excited I am for this journey ahead, and I hope that you’re ready to be a part of it, too.
“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”
In light of the chaotic commotion that we’ve recently heard of, I’ve decided that it was time to talk about things. Things meaning social media, which has unfortunately taken over our entire lives now. Instagram is changing. AGAIN. So, now what?
You’ve probably heard this at least several times this week, “the algorithm is changing”, “my engagement is down this week”, “no one is liking my pictures anymore!”
*cue the dramatic eye roll*
It’s my understanding that many people are frustrated and stressed about the new changes, but to be honest, I’m actually excited about it! These changes are good. Very good. The idea to write this post actually sparked from everyone complaining about Instagram changing the algorithm (again), removing likes, and so much more. What’s more interesting to me is that I have not seen yet one person who is in favor of this change.
When I first found out about Instagram completely removing likes from our feed, I was shocked. I mean, Instagram is all about likes, right? It’s specifically geared towards likes, comments, reach, impressions, and more. You know, the numbers part of it all. That’s the way that this platform has always been about from the very start, but it started to take an odd twist after we were introduced to this new, insane “influencer” world we now live in. I think that’s when and where we started to lose ourselves. It’s when we started obsessing over numbers. Why are we so obsessed over numbers? We fell into the pressure of reaching immeasurable standards. I think we tried to be perfect. We needed to take the perfect photos, have the perfect feed, wear the perfect clothes, ultimately losing a piece of ourselves. We tried to chase something that does not exist.
I truly believe that we got way too caught up in chasing likes and followers, which is contradicting to what most Instagrammers preach. That will never help grow your personal brand to the extent of what it should be. Instead, we should focus on what will attract our audience. The power of attraction will always be a better growth strategy for you than chasing something that doesn’t exist.
Since the beloved platform that we all know and love (sometimes hate) is changing, I want to leave you all with a piece of advice that I hope you’ll remember whenever you feel frustrated about your engagement:
Do not strive to become perfect. Instead, think about what do you love to do. What are your core beliefs and values? What are your dreams and aspirations in life? Use the answers to those questions to help guide you in building a more successful, real platform.
This is why I am in favor of Instagram changing.
We need to start living. Living outside of the digital world. Instagram and other social platforms are supposed to be fun! Not stressful, frustrating, depressing, or mentally exhausting. We should never allow a social media platform to make us feel bad about our selfie for not reaching over 1,000 likes. We ultimately have lost the purpose of why we use this platform. Social media should never dictate anything in your life. Not your emotions. Not your mental health. Anything. You are the captain now.
I think it’s important to be who you are. We should be grateful to have these platforms to which we can use to express our creativity, passions, and hobbies! Use it for the greater good. Use it to post meaningful and inspiring content that will attract people. That is how you grow; through the power of attraction.
We need to start changing for the better. Change the way we use social media. Demonstrate to others that there is more to life than obsessing over likes, fake influencers, and meaningless content.
I’m excited for us as creatives to push out a better version of ourselves. This new change should challenge you. It should feel uncomfortable, but that’s okay because nothing good came from our comfort zones anyway.
This change should feel like a breath of fresh air. This is your chance to start over and reinvent yourself! Spread your creative wings and learn how to fly. You’ll fall a couple of times, but use the spark and drive that you have within to push yourself forward. Be consistent and most importantly, be yourself.
Find your passion. Fall in love with the process that will take you to where you desire to be. Follow your heart and most importantly, do what makes YOU happy.
Let me start off by saying that everyone needs to plan a weekend getaway in the Catskills. Whether you’re working 40 or 80+ hours a week, spending a couple of days in the mountains will do your soul some serious good. It doesn’t have to be just the Catskills! The beach might have the same effect, but just keep in mind that whatever destination you choose, please make sure that you plan some R&R time. We all deserve it. You owe it to your mind and body. To be honest, I never knew how much I needed it until I arrived in Saugerties, NY!
When Joseph and I were planning our usual weekend visits, I thought that it would be a good idea to escape the norm. To leave work and our home behind for just a couple of days. Something we donot usually do. My goal was to be somewhere far away (but kind of close) enough to leave all my worries and stress behind. I was exhausted beyond belief; burnt out mentally from working over 80+ hours a week. Not healthy. Let this be your first step: de-stress from everything in your life and figure out exactly what will help you relax and unwind. This is mental health that we’re talking about! #selfcare
Without further ado, let’s get started on planning this weekend getaway!! I know you’re all eager to hear about the Catskills!!
FIND THE PERFECT HOME.
Joseph and I decided right off the bat that we did not want to stay in a hotel. We wanted a home away from home. Believe me when I tell you that we spent about two weeks searching online for an Airbnb. After endless hours, we FINALLY found the perfect place. To be honest, it was one of our highlights of this weekend. This house was phenomenal. Even though we were both about 3 hours away from home, this home really made us feel incredibly cozy. It was our home away from home. This is the direct link to book the home on HomeAway: http://bit.ly/brick-home-cottage — our weekend upstate would honestly not be the same without this home. You must stay here to really understand what I’m talking about!!! Take my word for it. Thank me later. #notsponsored
Added some adorable photos of the house! How cute?!
2. ONE WITH NATURE:
The best part about the Catskills is that you’re completely immersed in nature, which is pretty much the point. You’re surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, beautiful trees, and AIR. Yes, the best damn air you’ll ever breathe in your life. When I came back home, the air just wasn’t the same. Yes, I realize how weird that sounds, but…the air was so much cleaner. I highly suggest planning an outdoor activity that you or others would enjoy! Depending on the area that you stay, (Catskills is huge) there are so many trails and mountains to hike. If hiking mountains isn’t your cup of tea, that’s okay too! There are plenty of other fun activities to do! Luckily for us, Saugerties was the perfect location. It was an adorable, cute small town to explore! However, if you are planning to hike a mountain(s), Saugerties is perfectly and conveintly located in the middle of the Catskills region.
Our challenge for the weekend was to hike a mountain; something we’ve never done together! Hunter Mountain. Boy, oh boy. What. A. Hike. Naturally, me being overdramatic when I say this, I honestly feel like I have PTSD from this hike… It was strenuous, incredibly challenging, but energetic and electric at the same time. This is your fair warning. This mountain is not for everyone. The scale of 1-10 on difficulty, it’s a 12. Joe and I severely underestimated this mountain! We found out later that it is by far the most difficult mountain in the whole Catskill region. We climbed over 4,000 feet for these incredible views:
The hike took about 5 hours round trip. Plan to get here early. We left in the morning and ended the hike around 4 or 5 PM. Your biggest regret will be coming down this mountain in the dark. Wear comfy clothes and really good sneakers!
All in all, I will say that it was worth it for that incredible view. It’s also something “fun” to do as a couple. In a weird way, we kind of bonded? I did complain about 85% of the time to Joseph for making me do this, but when we finally reached the top…it…felt… INCREDIBLE. 4,000 feet later, we climbed an enormous mountain. Honestly, I didn’t think that I had it in me, but determination and motivation go a long way. And Cliff bars!!!! Those helped SO much (chocolate chip is the best flavor, don’t argue with me).
Aside from Hunter Mountain, Kaaterskill Falls was also on our itinerary! Side note: the weekend we traveled upstate was impeccable timing because of the Fall foliage!!!!! Peak season! The trees had a warm, beautiful shade of dark green, orange, red, and yellow. I was wicked excited about witnessing this in person and obviously capturing photos on my new iPhone 11 Pro Max (putting the social in Social Raph, am I right?). For the record, these photos came out absolutely insane.
Kaaterskill Falls is poppin’. Be prepared to fight with someone over parking because this place is super popular on the weekends, but I totally understand why after seeing how beautiful it was. 110% worth it!!!
3. SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR BAE:
This is super important!!!! And I’m talking about real quality time, not the bullshit type where you both are sitting on the couch scrolling mindlessly on Instagram while pretending to watch the movie you put on.
Before I traveled upstate, I told myself that I would *try* to disconnect from social media….not just for my relationship, but for myself. It was hard. That’s when I realized how disgusting and unhealthy our obsession is with our phones these days. Put the damn phone down and be present. Joseph and I don’t get to see each other often, so it’s very important that we value and respect each other, not social media. The same holds true to any relationship.
5. PERKS OF STAYING IN SAUGERTIES:
Right down the street from our rental is the downtown center of Saugerties. We had breakfast almost every day at Love Bites — aka the most amazing place ever!! The food and coffee were phenomenal. It does get very busy, so plan to get here early!! The eggs benny are to die for, but the best part was the latkes. I honestly had no idea what the hell a latke was, but oh my latke!!!!! I would drive three hours right now just to eat those babies again. Ugh. Seriously, come to eat here! You won’t regret it.
After breakfast, walk next door! There’s an incredible local book store with a wicked cute cafe inside! It was almost like a Barnes & Noble, but better! Family owned and an impressive selection of books. I’m a book nerd, (literally inside Barnes & Noble right now writing this post) so any store with books is a store that I’m marching to.
6. VISIT HUDSON, NY:
Ah, the infamous town of Hudson. I’ve had my eye on this town ever since we planned to visit the Catskills. Saugerties was a short 20-minute drive from Hudson, so we decided to spend Sunday afternoon here! The absolute cutest small town with a great downtown area. Endless antique shops, great coffee and bakery shops, and my absolute favorite part, a book store that serves alcohol. Y’all know how much I love my books and rosè. I was in heaven. You must visit this place if you ever make it out to Hudson! http://bit.ly/booksandale
And that my friends is how you plan a successful weekend getaway in the Catskills!!! I loved this place so much and I plan on coming back in the Winter!
Please message me if you have any related questions, I know a couple of people were looking into booking/planning a trip soon.
I love these kinds of trips not only help us relax, but they help us realize the bigger picture. You have a moment to breathe and fully enjoy the things that you want to do. Life is not just about work. Even though it can slowly consume your entire life, we shouldn’t let it ( I seriously need to take my own advice). We need to make more time for things that make us happy! Honestly, I hope that this post helped you! If not, I hope that it inspires you to visit the mountains one day and be one with nature! I’m already dreaming of the next weekend getaway hiking another difficult mountain. Life is beautiful. I remember saying that to myself a lot when I was up there. Take the time to enjoy the little things. Cue “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Fin.
Okay, so what’s the deal with Social Raph? Who is she?
Allow me to introduce myself. Social Raph has exquisitely turned into a personal brand that has stemmed from my dreams, passions, and commitment to better myself and my future every single day.
Let’s start from the beginning:
I decided to create Social Raph in 2018: the start of my career. I graduated from college in May and officially started a full-time job in marketing/social media all in the same week. Social media became a very important part of my life a couple of years ago when I took over the entire marketing operation for my family’s business, Bagel Time. It’s painful and shocking to imagine a business with no social media presence, but a couple of years ago, that business was Bagel Time. We were not active on Instagram or Facebook. We had a website that was built in the ’90s. Everything about it was horrifying. Nonetheless, I was a business student in college where I realized that I needed to take the initiative of creating a social media presence for the sake of the business. I vividly remember our Instagram page had about 350 followers in 2015. By religiously working at the store on the weekends, I started to take pictures of bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, catering platters, homemade pastries, sharing our family story, etc and uploaded everything to our page. This is how I began to recognize the power and potential of social media. Little did I know that this was the birth of Social Raph.
My family and friends call me Raph. Social media is my life, so I just put the two together. Social Raph.
I started to fall in love with the process and responsibility of portraying a brand on social media. That doesn’t sound very enticing, but for me, it meant something more. My mind suddenly started to fall down a rabbit hole and then I began to wonder about the endless possibilities and opportunities that can arise; where and how you can take things to the next level. I envisioned something greater for Bagel Time, especially since my family owns it. The amount of hard work that goes into this business is remarkable, and that was the fire that ignited within me. I wanted to keep growing the Instagram page. I taught myself WordPress and completely re-designed our website. I took Facebook Business courses and started a new business page. I read countless business/entrepreneurship books. I took everything that I learned from college and my amazing business professors and poured all that knowledge into the business.
To my surprise, the business grew so, so much. (4 years later, our page is almost at 2,000 followers and our sales tripled.)
Aside from the business, I created a personal Instagram account in 2017. It was completely dedicated to photography. I love, love, LOVE taking pictures. My favorite thing to do after taking a million pictures of the sunset at the beach is going home and editing that one perfect shot. I use VSCO for all my filters, but I recently taught myself how to use Adobe Lightroom and I absolutely love it. Editing your photos and watching it come to life is not only the best part after a photo shoot, but it’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying. To even make it official, my boyfriend bought me a professional camera for my 21st birthday. I’m blessed to have a partner who supports my dreams and pushes me to be a better person than who I was yesterday. That’s true love. (fun fact: my boyfriend is now the one behind the camera, who’s the photographer now?)
What started out as a hobby, turned into a lifestyle. Rzzreative, my current Instagram account is how I transformed my passion for photography into a unique and creative way of expressing myself through the eyes of beauty, fashion, business, and so much more. Most importantly, it’s where I get to be myself. The real and raw Raph.
Instagram can be a beautiful platform if you really want to use it for something greater. From the aesthetics, to strategically planning your photos, to working with your dream brands, to analytics, to advertising, etc. I truly love everything about it.
I have connected and met really amazing people who are also extremely talented and creative. Some of them have even turned into my best friends. With that being said, we need to ALWAYS support and lift each other up. We should never criticize, judge, or put down one another. Please continue pursuing your dreams day by day. Success does not happen overnight. I know that we all have the desire to start something that we love, and I’m here to tell you to DO THAT. Life is too short for mediocrity. Find your passion, perfect your craft, and watch your dreams become a reality. What makes you happy? What sparks a tiny fire inside you?
I’m amazed at how many messages I receive asking for insight on starting a website, a side-business, or interpreting analytics. My desire for Social Raph is that it can turn into a tool for others to use when they need a push. I want to answer all your burning questions about marketing, social media, photography, WordPress, blogging, FB/IG ads, starting a personal brand, literally anything! The world is your oyster. Use all the crucial resources around you to become better, smarter, and wiser. I want to leave you feeling inspired and motivated. We’re all in this together!!
Chances are if you’re reading this post, you already follow me on social media. Please feel free to reach out to me via email or DM to collab or talk about your goals and dreams! We may just end up doing a photo shoot for our own pages 😉 No, but seriously, if you live in New England, let’s schedule a coffee date. We can get drinks too, where are all my wine lovers at?
My boyfriend lives in New York so, I’m usually in New York every other weekend! To all my NYC and NJ babes, I’m ALWAYS up for a brunch/photo shoot date in the city!
And that my friends, is the story behind Social Raph. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued love and support. I’m in awe every day reading your kind words. LOVE YOU ALL.
It’s true what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
For those of you that do not know, my boyfriend and I are dating long distance! Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s exactly what I thought 4 years ago. My boyfriend, Joseph, lives in New York and I live right outside Boston. We are about a 4-hour car ride from each other. Approximately 180 miles away.
Let me start off by saying that being in an LDR has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m not just saying that because I’m dating my best friend. Love is beautiful, love can also hurt, but name a better feeling than being in love with your best friend. However, an LDR is not for everyone. It takes a significant amount of respect, communication, trust, forgiveness, and commitment. If you’re not 110% ready for that, then it won’t work out.
THE BEGINNING: I’ll keep this part short and sweet 🙂 Joe and I first started dating in 2015. His job required him to be in Boston a couple of times a month running events, so that’s basically how we first met and started to get to know each other! He was very sweet, persistent, and eager to get to know me better right from the start. Truthfully, I was terrified and did not take him seriously because I knew that he lived far, but I also wanted to protect myself from getting hurt, so I kept my distance (literally).
To my surprise, Joseph never stopped reaching out to me. He called me every single night where we talked about everything until the sun came up. He texted me good morning and goodnight every single day. I was confused. I mean, how often do you come across a guy who knows what he wants and goes after it wholeheartedly? Slowly, but surely, I started to feel a strong connection. How could you not? You talk to the same person every single day and BOOM; cue the butterflies. This was the foundation that built our relationship. Communication. He became my best friend first. The first person that I wanted to talk about my day. The first person to tell that I aced my exam. The first person to call when I was upset or needed advice. We got to know each other extremely well in a couple of months. Shortly after, Joseph took me out on our first date where we went to see the Minion movie!! I’m obsessed with minions. He drove 4 hours to pick me up and then drove 4 hours back home..on the SAME DAY. I mean, seriously? Who else would do that? Years later, he told me that he actually slept in a Home Depot parking lot because he was way too exhausted 😂 (fun fact: he kept the movie ticket and still has it in his wallet :’))
After our first date, we instantly hit it off. We then made it official two days before Christmas!
Let me backtrack for a moment. The decision to become official was VERY hard. It took very serious and long conversations every day. I had no idea if I was ready for this. I mean, I was 19 years old at the time! Ultimately, that decision led me to one of the best things that ever happened to me. I trusted my gut and followed my heart. It was extremely terrifying, but wow when I think about the love that we’ve shared over the years it makes me feel all warm inside.
Joseph has grown to not only become my best friend but my partner in life. Relationships are hard and complicated sometimes, but finding that one person that balances, respects, values, and appreciates every little thing that you do is the key to a strong and fulfilled relationship. He’s my person. Without a doubt in my mind. We truly bring out the best in each other, and we’ve grown to appreciate each other SO much more because of the distance.
THE DISTANCE: Truthfully, the first few years were arguably the hardest and most stressful times of my life. I was a full-time college student working part-time, and Joseph was working full-time. It took a lot of sacrifices to plan out weekends to see each other. We typically spent Friday-Sunday morning together, and we tried our best to see each other every other weekend. Twice a month. Those days were the absolute worst. Leaving your best friend. Saying goodbye. It’s a little embarrassing admitting that I bawled my eyes out way too much when it was time to go home. It honestly broke my heart. It still happens sometimes! It NEVER gets easier.
One amazing perk about the distance is that it has helped us focus on our selves. It taught us how to be independent. We couldn’t let the distance consume us, otherwise, we would be miserable and mope around all day. Yes, it absolutely sucks not seeing your s.o whenever you want, but you need to have hobbies. You need to be your own person first. This holds true to any relationship. This important aspect of our relationship is what has helped us survive thus far. It taught me how to be ambitious and pursue my passions in life.
Our relationship would not be the same had we not started dating long distance first. We have gone through so much together as a couple and we always resolved all of our issues at the end of the day. Over the years, we’ve become stronger, more patient, more understanding, and more loving. The distance has truly solidified our bond as a couple, and for that, I am forever grateful. There’s nothing that we can’t get through together. I wish that people could understand how an LDR feels because it is so pure, true, and beautiful. It’s 110% worth it. We share a special kind of love that I wish everyone could experience. My favorite part of our LDR? Each time we visit, it feels like we’re seeing each other for the first time. The butterflies never stop. Ever. There is no “honeymoon” phase. Everyone advised me that eventually you fall out of love and the butterflies die down. I wish they knew how wrong they are.
4 years later, Joseph and I are still dating long distance (unfortunately). We always have an end game in mind, and we are continuing to be patient and let everything fall into place the way that it should! We see each other quite more often than we did in the beginning, but we always have something to look forward to whether that’s planned getaways or fun things to do when we are visiting Boston/New York. We truly cannot WAIT until the days where we finally get to be together and put our long distance to rest.
To conclude our beautiful love story, I want to leave you all on a special note:
Date your best friend. Please do not take that lightly. Life is SO beautiful when you’re dating your best friend. Love can be an incredible, indescribable feeling when it’s reciprocated back to you. Learn from each other. Grow with each other. Never spite, act petty, or belittle one another. Listen to each other. Be each other’s biggest supporter and critic. Push each other to become a better person than who you were yesterday. Talk about life, the things that matter the most to you. Talk about your issues; open and honest communication is crucial. Talk about your day. This next one is very important. Never, and I mean never go to bed mad at each other. That is the top 5 worst feelings in the world. Apologize for whatever happened even if you’re not wrong and just please make it right. Joseph and I have promised to never let that happen. Share adventures with each other. Plan weekend getaways, visit cities you both have never been to. Go on baecations! Make Friday nights date night. Fall in love with each other more and more every day. Be kind, be patient, and be forgiving.
Relationships are a partnership. It can never be one-sided. You both have to work together in order to make it work. I promise you, the right person will never give up on you. No matter how far away you are.
“Some souls just instantly click. Whether you’re lovers, best friends, soul mates, or something else. You accept this person for everything they are, and they would never let you be anything less than your beautiful and sometimes flawed self.” I think that’s how you know you’ve met ‘your person’.