In a post-Kardashian world, every millennial thinks they have what it takes to go viral, but few consider what that online fame actually looks like in a person's daily life. In Elite Daily's new series Life Behind The Likes, we speak with the people you know on the internet — from the people behind major Instagram accounts to the Daaaaamn Daniels of the world who went viral for one remarkable moment of their lives — to meet the people behind the screens.
If you're a fan of '90s nostalgia, neon colors, empowering women, and glitter, then you're probably already following Cup of Rahman on Instagram. (If you're not, you should go do that... like, now.) The account displays content that nods to '90s pop culture and fashion, along with original illustrations that millennials are bound to relate to. Whether you're searching for a Spice Girls tribute post or a throwback meme from Bring It On, Cup of Rahman, which has over 32,000 followers, has your back. Celine Rahman is the millennial behind the account, and I spoke with her in an interview with Elite Daily about what her life's like behind the screen.
I was doing it for myself. It was exciting for me to create this ‘90s mood board.
Rahman is a 28-year-old artist from Syracuse, New York with, obviously, a serious passion for '90s-everything. (Rahman is also a former Elite Daily employee who left the company in 2016.) Her journey to Instagram stardom began after she moved to New York City with a blog and a vision. Rahman's blog, also called Cup of Rahman, was the inspiration behind her now-viral Instagram account. "Instagram was kind of just up and popping. I was like, 'You know, should I make an Instagram along with this blog?' But if I did it, I wanted it to be not necessarily about the blog content, but just things that I vibe with," she says. Rahman's IG account additionally showcases her own artwork that she makes as an illustrator.
Rahman's Instagram account began gaining traction when her coworker at Elite Daily started posting her content on Elite Daily's Instagram page.
"I never expected it to be anything crazy," she says. "I was just doing it for my own pleasure. And after a while, I started to gain [followers], and it was so crazy how quickly it happened."
And that is how Cup of Rahman was born.
As expected, going from a '90s-loving gal to an internet-famous icon almost overnight was a little "weird" for Rahman. She explains, "I couldn’t believe that it was happening, and you know, it was definitely something that I enjoy doing." Rahman worked with the social team at Elite Daily in December 2015 and enjoyed curating the Instagram posts. "So I stayed on top of it, and I just really paid attention to the audience and what they were liking — but also, you know, I was doing it for myself. It was exciting for me to create this ‘90s mood board," she says.
Once, I was grabbing lunch with my brother, and someone said to me, ‘Are you That Good Rahman?'"
That's the perfect way to describe Rahman's Instagram account: a '90s mood board. Cup of Rahman features a ton of nostalgic celebrities and stills from old movies and TV shows, such as a meme from A Cinderella Story (featuring Hilary Duff, of course), and a rad photo of the Olsen twins chilling in their PJs. However, out of all the ladies that Rahman shares, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, and the Spice Girls are the most popular, she says. Rahman's demographic is 83 percent female, with women between the ages of 25 to 34 among her biggest fans, according to her Instagram insights — it's no surprise their favorite posts involve those iconic '90s celebs.
One might assume the now-viral account holder would be treated a little differently in public, but that wasn't the case for Rahman — especially since her image generally isn't in her posts. She says it's been totally "natural," and that she doesn't even consider herself "Instagram famous."
Even so, Rahman did recall a surprising time when a stranger recognized her in public. She says, "Once, I was grabbing lunch with my brother, and someone said to me, ‘Are you That Good Rahman?,' and I was just like, 'Um, yeah… I am.'" She was mostly shocked that the person recognized her personal Instagram account instead of her business one. Rahman continues, "Social media is so weird to me sometimes."
So, what's the secret behind an account so successful that you get recognized in freaking public for it? Rahman tells me, "Definitely stay consistent. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't, and find something that you love — because you don't want to be miserable after going viral, thinking, 'OK this is it. I’ve crossed the bridge, now I have this audience.' Stay authentic."
I have to say, I'm extremely lucky to have had the success I’ve had so far. I owe that to the incredible women that I’m surrounded by.
According to Rahman, another huge asset to her success has been her spot-on Instagram captions. Her secret method is to stick with her vibes and write whatever comes to mind. She tells me, "I try to keep things positive, but also lighthearted and funny... but also nostalgic. It's all a big combination. People love to laugh. I try to be me; I don't want to be a fake version of me."
Apparently, it doesn't even take long for Rahman to make a post with a killer caption. She says posting is like "washing her hands," and that she has a log of Instagram photos to choose from whenever she wants to post something new.
Unsurprisingly, celebrities are also catching on to Rahman's Instagram account. Once, in fact, Mandy Moore reposted one of her illustrations about Mercury being in retrograde, and Rahman was shocked. (Yes, I'm talking about the Mandy Moore.)
"I didn't even realize that she reposted my illustration," Rahman says. "Some random girl who follows me messaged me and she was like, ‘Um, isn't this your artwork?’ I was… I think the word is 'shooketh.' I was like, 'OH MY GOD.' I was freaking out. I can't believe that through some miracle, that art had reached her page. She posted it to her Instagram, it was just so incredible."
So, yes — even Instagram celebs get starstruck when famous people acknowledge their accounts. Rahman also mentions that Netflix, UGG, and The Huffington Post have all re-posted her content on their Instagram pages. However, out of all the celebs on the internet, she really wishes Cameron Dallas from the Netflix show Chasing Cameron would re-post something from her IG, since his demographic is similar to hers. (Hint, hint, Cameron.)
Rahman's Instagram account does not yet pay her bills, but the business connected to her Instagram account is starting to help (she sells apparel, keychains, and prints that feature her illustrations on an online shop). "I actually opened up Cup of Rahman as an LLC last year. It's actually about to hit the one-year mark. So I wanted to turn it into a business where I could create illustrative products and sell them through Cup of Rahman," she tells me.
Although she is making some money off her products, all the cash goes straight back into her business, since she's still in her "investing stage." She says, "It's my first time owning a business, running a business, and there's still a lot to learn. I have to say, I'm extremely lucky to have had the success I’ve had so far. And I owe that to the incredible women that I’m surrounded by."
Rahman has picked up side jobs like babysitting and styling for indie films to make some extra money. She tells me, "I love film and I love fashion — so, um, that's just another half of my life."
Looking to the future, one of her main goals for 2018 is to make Cup of Rahman more "woke." She says, "I want to post things that are issues of concern around the U.S., and I just want it to be more woke. I want to be a place where people can go to fight their fight and also stay positive and listen."
Rahman continues, and tells me, "Over the years, I kind of kept to myself about social issues — Black Lives Matter, Women's March, all of that feminism... I'm a feminist and a black woman, so it's all very important to me. I express that through my personal side, by not necessarily through Cup of Rahman. And I'm realizing I have this platform, and that it's time to use it."
There's no doubt in my mind that Rahman's popularity will only increase from here.