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From Vet Tech to Jewelry Designer with the Help of Instagram

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

It's time to get to know some of the emerging designers nominated for Racked Young Guns, our annual search for the country's most promising new fashion talent.

Photo via Allison Pharmakis

If there was ever jewelry designed for glamping, it would have to be Cameron St. Clair Archer's Saint Clair line. The Washington-based designer's spiky, striking pieces are an unexpected mix of raw and uncut gems and minerals, tassels, vintage sequins, and recycled industrial brass. "The girl that wears my stuff is kind of like me. She's into the outdoors, can be barefoot, can go camping and kick it, but also appreciates style and likes to get dressed up," Archer told Racked. "I'm pretty funky and pretty simple at the same time, so I like to jazz it up with a statement piece."

Though Archer maintains a studio in the District of Columbia, she's a nature girl through and through—to the extent that she was fostering a piglet in her apartment the week we interviewed her.

And nature and travel are huge influences in her work. "The style I identify with most is sort of bohemian-rugged, with an edge of sophistication and elegance. I feel like I belong in the American Southwest and I'm really drawn to natural stones in their raw form, like turquoise and rose quartz and Labradorite," she said.

Art was always a passion for Archer, but for a time she thought she would be a veterinarian. After graduating with a degree in anthropology, she worked as a vet tech and wanted to go to veterinary school. But while working an office job she hated, she started taking apart old pieces of jewelry and putting them back together in different ways.

When she saw the response to her work on Instagram, it convinced her to take the plunge and sell her designs. But uploading her jewelry to Instagram wasn't a calculated thing. "I didn't even know Instagram was a social platform. I thought it was just a filter," she said. "I really had no idea. I posted all these photos that were of the same thing, and just processed them."

It helped that Archer is a yoga fan who sells her jewelry at Wanderlust festivals. As members of the heavily networked Instagram yoga scene discovered her work, her follower count grew.

Since starting Saint Clair in 2010, Archer has focused on building her brand, conceptualizing look books, and perfecting her website. She's now a full-time designer, and her work has been picked up by Faherty Brand, D.C. stores Redeem and Salt & Sundry, and New York's Museum of Arts and Design. Other store and brand collaborations are in development. "I'm really focusing on targeting stores," she said. "I love working with small boutiques, because you're in it together. If one fails, the other fails, but if you both try to work together and do it properly and positively, it yields good outcomes."

And living outside a fashion capital hasn't bothered her. "I'd like to actually get out of the city and live on a ranch and create work that way and still be able to be mobile and go to shows," she said. "As far as social media and Instagram goes, I think a lot of it for brands is people's stories. People are interested in the person and the face behind the brand," Archer said.

The designer behind Saint Clair jewelry is right there in the name. Archer's middle name, St. Clair, is her great grandfather's first name, her grandmother's first name, and the middle name of her cousins. The name has been inherited like jewelry. "What I really like about jewelry is that it can last a lifetime if you treat it right," she said. "I have pieces of jewelry that my great-grandmother passed down to her daughter, which had been passed down to my mom. You can hold on to them and treasure them, and each piece tells a story."
· Saint Clair [Official Site]
· How the Friends Behind Negative Underwear Are Reinventing Bras [Racked]
· All Racked Young Guns 2014 [Racked]