The “ArtsNow IG Focus” is a feature by Caroline Cockrell (@scaroline27) where we post about people on Instagram you should follow. The goal feeds into the mission of ArtsNow: to create new opportunities for artists and introduce them to the community. [Read other ArtsNow IG features.]
To be nominated, follow @ArtsNowNC and tag any of your new or old photos with #ArtsNowIGFocus (nominees must be 18 and up)! You can also nominate someone by mentioning @ArtsNowNC and #ArtsNowIGFocus on one of their photos.
Chana Lynn (@RaleighWhatsUp) | Raleigh | IG since 2011
What’s up @RaleighWhatsUp! Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Chana Lynn. I have spent the past 15 years living in Raleigh with my husband and two daughters. I am a web design and social media consultant and work with several different local businesses. Over the years, I have watched Raleigh evolve at an amazing speed to become a hip, innovative, fun and delicious city to live. I started RaleighWhatsUp to help people in Raleigh and the surrounding areas with suggestions on where to shop, eat, drink, listen and explore locally. I love supporting small businesses that offer something unique and add character and vibrancy to the community. If I’m not at school, traveling, working or attending events, you will usually find me somewhere nearby, spending time at my favorite spots or checking out what’s new!
You have quite the following on Instagram. When did you start @RaleighWhatsUp and why?
I started playing around with Instagram in late 2011 a year after it was first introduced. I love to take pictures when we travel and visit new places, and I found Instagram to be easy to use and a fun way to instantly edit and share our experiences. I started taking pictures of some of the local places that I would frequent here in Raleigh. At first, my account was a big mix of things, but as I started to post more frequently, I began to put the focus more on highlighting locally owned businesses that offered food, drink and retail. I started to post about Raleigh’s art, museums, festivals and live music as it was happening. I have a degree in architecture so that is one of my favorite things to photograph as well.
As I started posting more frequently, Raleigh was starting to really explode with so many great new restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, retail and more. I had a goal to help friends, family and local community have a better idea of places to visit and I wanted people to break out of their routines and try something new and be pleasantly surprised to discover such great food and drink, art or shopping nearby. It’s also very much about supporting these businesses that keep our city vibrant and unique and creating more of a sense of community. Now with Instagram my goal is for every photo to be able to tell a story. I’m a visual person and Instagram is one of the best apps out there to be visually creative. I strive to capture events as they are happening in that instant and do all my own shooting. My goal is to be authentic with my followers.
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The Triangle is growing so quickly and yet you’re always at the newest hotspots! How do you keep up with everything?
I have always loved discovering what’s new and popular in cities I visit, and after living in big cities like Washington, DC and Sydney, Australia before coming to Raleigh, I was actively looking for good places to eat and drink as soon as we moved to the area. I am a dedicated subscriber and reader of the News & Observer every day. You can get so much information from the local paper and local magazines regarding new businesses and restaurants, retail and local events. In more recent years, I get much of my information on social media and by following local people that are in the know and also following local businesses. Over the last few years I’ve met many bloggers and foodies who are very knowledgeable of what’s new and what’s coming to the Triangle. Many of them have become great friends! Keeping up with what’s new also involves being proactive and making an effort to get out, discover and try new places frequently.
What’s a typical day like for you, a lifestyle blogger?
I have two teenagers so a lot of my time goes into supporting them with school and their activities. I also spend much of my day working for local clients doing website design, social media consulting and managing different websites and social accounts. I try to attend and support local business and community events and I frequent shops in Raleigh and Durham as much as I can to help support these new businesses.
@RaleighWhatsUp provides great exposure for local businesses. Has this created new business opportunities for you?
It actually has. I’ve been able to meet many small business owners in the area and help them with their social media, everything from using apps like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as helping them create and manage their accounts and how to post effectively. I’ve also created or re-designed several websites for local coffee shops, bottle shops, caterers and more. I help promote local events. Currently I am getting ready to collaborate on some campaigns with some businesses which I’m very excited about!
What places would you recommend to any newcomers in the area?
There are SO many great local businesses in Raleigh, Durham and all around the Triangle. My suggestion is to take a look around where you live, work and like to hang out and then find out where the locally owned coffee shops, restaurants and retail are near you and get to know them. I’ve found some of the nicest people around that are passionate about their business and want to make it the best experience for you. Some of my favorites include:
Breakfast: Sola Coffee, The Morning Times, Benelux Coffee, Brew.
Lunch: State of Beer, Hereghty Heavenly Delicious, Kimbap, Calavera Empanadas.
Coffee: Jubala, Sola, Torch, Joule, Cafe de los Muertos, and Liquid State.
Dinner: Stanbury, Bida Manda, Garland, Capital Club 16, Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, Gonza Tacos y Tequila, Virgil’s Original Taqueria, Jose & Sons and Standard Foods.
Drinks: Gallo Pelon, Foundation, Bittersweet, William & Co, Vita Vite.
Breweries: Trophy Brewing, LoneRider, Crank Arm, Raleigh Brewing, Neuse River.
Shopping: Deco Raleigh, Devolve Moto, Edge of Urge, Lumina Clothing, Port of Raleigh, Gypsy Jule, Wine Authorities, Furbish and Union Camp Collective to name just a few!
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Spring is finally here and I personally love dining outside! What establishments would you suggest for outside dining and drinks?
Patio dining and drinking is always a favorite and Raleigh offers up some great weather for enjoying drinks and dining outside. I love Trophy’s outside seating (all locations). Taverna Agora has great outdoor dining on their second level on Morgan Street. I do love the Tiki bar at Humble Pie! Babylon Restaurant has a big open space in front for dining and drinking. I also like the back patio of Busy Bee. I will be glad when Boylan is back up and running because they’ve got one of the best patio views of Raleigh!
Durham has some fabulous spots for dining/drinking outside including some of my favorites such as Fullsteam Brewery, Motorco with Parts & Labor, Geer Street Garden, The Roof at the Durham Hotel, Parker & Otis, Ponysaurus Brewing, Gonza Tacos y Tequila and many more!
Are there long-term goals for @RaleighWhatsUp?
Yes there are some plans in the works! It’s hard to believe RaleighWhatsUp is headed towards celebrating five years this fall! I am so thankful to have met so many amazing people since I started posting and sharing about the area. I have been fortunate to collaborate with some great businesses such as Visit Raleigh, Devolve Moto, Offline, Midtown magazine and more. I’m very excited about some new collaborative efforts coming soon (stay tuned!). I have also enjoyed helping clients and plan to continue to create websites and social media accounts that better represent their visions, are more cost effective and are easier for them to manage.
Creatively, I am exploring ideas to take some of my photographs to a different level and perhaps feature them in an exciting new way. I plan to continue to travel as much as I can. I enjoy seeking out similar type experiences in other cities in the US and internationally as well. Traveling is what keeps me learning and excited about things and I am always so thankful for opportunities to get out and see different parts of the world and share what I’ve experienced with my followers. I only seek to encourage people to get out and make time to explore, travel, experience culture and art, listen to a band and support their local businesses, and at the same time have a great experience themselves.
What do you like best about running @RaleighWhatsUp?
Honestly I just really love knowing what’s new and what people are talking about. I like being a tourist in my own city. I love helping people be more aware of all the great things that are happening around them. I love running into people visiting places that I recommended to them! That’s absolutely the best. People having great experiences in great places and building a successful, vibrant community is what it’s all about!