Raphael Farasat never stops rebranding. Himself, that is. Adventures abroad led him to leave law school behind and build an award-winning agency instead.
With clients like Tesla, Spotify, and Heineken, Raphael explains how continuous curiosity helped him found one of LA’s most sought-after branding studios.
With just six months to go of a four-year joint degree in law and business, Raphael Farasat dropped out. He left to start a branding agency – Truffl – in his home city of Los Angeles. It was a brave decision. And one that his family found hard to understand at the time.
“I think my parents were extremely disappointed. I had just one semester left. They thought it was a crazy decision given the stability and certainty of a career as a lawyer.”
As it turned out, Raphael’s move was a wise one. Truffl’s first three clients were Fortune 500 companies and he now counts Tesla, Heineken, FX, Spotify, and Catch amongst the portfolio. But the seeds of change were sown many years earlier. A year spent living in Argentina, and a year-long backpacking trip starting in Australia, ending in Central America, and taking in some 40 countries via Asia and Europe, had a profound impact on this life. Raphael’s eyes were opened to adventures and cultural learnings that went beyond his LA upbringing and generated a fierce desire to use his creativity.
“I had so many spontaneous, unique experiences during my time abroad. I came back inspired to create a lifestyle that had a lot of newness, a lot of ability to connect with people on a deeper level, and a lot of opportunity to make new things.”
However, Raphael would not leave the path laid out just yet. Returning to The States, he embarked on a double degree at law school. It was the road he felt his family wanted him to pursue, but not one he was content with. The places and people he had experienced on his journeys had permanently altered his perception and fueled a creative fire that could not be fulfilled by lectures in legalese.
From Courtrooms to Creatives
There are many people who spend their days dreaming of perusing more creative paths. There are very few people who actually make the leap. And fewer still who do it successfully. This makes Raphael one of a rare breed.
How do you go from almost becoming a lawyer, to an entrepreneur, branding expert, and business owner? The answer lies in giving, rather than selling, says Raphael.
Whilst in graduate school he conceived the idea of hosting unique, exclusive events. He designed these to showcase his passions and capabilities, whilst offering others something valuable.
He would devise a theme, find a venue, invite a handful of people and host a unique evening. Using inspiration from his worldly travels, alongside a sharp imagination, Raphael paired cultural and culinary experiences to create completely original, one-of-a-kind occasions.
“One event we did was with a movie director; we hosted a premiere and did a multi-course, roof-top dinner, with each course based on a scene of the movie. Another event was an album release. We had electronic music from the artist and paired each track with a dish.”
The events were a huge hit and word spread. Soon, businesses were approaching Raphael, asking him to create events for their brands too.
“That was how my agency started. I was still in school, pursuing two degrees, with just one semester remaining. But I left and never looked back.”
The Challenge of Constant Creativity
Raphael says that one of the hardest parts of his job is having to be continually creative. For each company that he works with, Raphael needs to find a completely novel concept. Doing that day in, day out, at scale, is not easy.
“We try to do something very disruptive and different with each brand that we help create. It’s really hard to do that repeatedly.”
To fuel his furnace of ideas, Raphael has become a collector of creativity. Books, magazines, newsletters, blogs, adverts, shows, songs, anything that sparks an idea, Raphael records.
“When I see or hear something that gives me inspiration, I make a note. So I make a lot of lists! I have lists of business ideas, business names, branding ideas, designs I like, uplifting quotes, and lots of other things.”
Raphael also tops up his creative tank with downtime and travel. From taking short breaks during his working day, to extended trips abroad, he says he is able to come up with more ideas by getting space from work.
“Being able to put things aside is so important. It’s amazing how much clarity comes from that distance.”
Raphael tries to get outside of The States as much as possible. Leaving his LA life serves a twofold purpose; it gives him time to relax and free his mind from the office. It also exposes him to new ideas and ways of thinking. A recent retreat to Mexico’s Highlands was one such source.
“I visited a place called Hacienda De San Antonio, in the Colima Mountains. It’s this beautiful, old estate, set amongst lush, mountainous forests, with views of an active volcano. I put my phone away and just enjoyed the slower pace of life. It was an amazing reset for me.“
Raphael credits his willingness to pivot as part of Truffl’s success. Comfortable with the unknown path and constantly curious, he is always keen to expose himself to the new.
“My career has not been a linear path. Being in an agency setting has allowed me to pivot a lot of times, based on what I’m interested in and what opportunities come up.”
His love of new tech feeds into his curiosity. It was whilst searching for solutions to the problem of creating structure, processes, and workflows for Truffl, that Raphael discovered Craft.
“The creative industry is not easy to templatize. The approach we take needs to be different for each project because each challenge is different. Sometimes we’re coming up with a new whole business model that hasn’t been done before. There’s no specific formula.”
Raphael first started using Craft as a way to share dashboards with clients. He then saw it could help with the structure and process problem, and now uses Craft to power much of the day-to-day workflows at Truffl.
Beyond Branding: The Truffl Shuffl
Raphael has already achieved a huge amount. But his entrepreneurial evolution continues.
“Right now, we describe Truffl as a branding agency. The next phase is to expand into what I’m calling business design, a mixture of branding and entrepreneurship. We’ve also started to invest in some of the brands we work with. We’re looking to raise a fund and invest in promising businesses on a more expansive level.”
With his blend of creative energy and business acumen, Raphael and the Truffl team are ones to watch.
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