Inside Saint Clair Jewelry's Boho Studio

Full disclosure: With D.C. being the insanely small town that it is, we have known Cameron Archer since she was 12 — and, yes, she was stylish then, too. Now, as the creative genius behind Saint Clair Jewelry, the District native has been stealing hearts (and beautifying necks, ears, and wrists) as a full-time jewelry designer.
Her line is chock-full of stunning pieces with a natural, earthy, and understated vibe, always coupled with a subtle edge. Think tough, twisted chains and rough crystals and stones. These are the kind of pieces that work just as well with a sexy LBD as with your most basic jeans-and-tee ensemble, effortlessly elevating your entire wardrobe.
And, judging by the year Archer's had? The masses are equally obsessed. From her popular flea market stall to the counter space she's snagged at Redeem, Trohv, and Salt & Sundry, Archer is poised to be the next big indie jewelry designer. We were lucky enough to get a first look at her brand-new workspace inside the 52 O Street artist studios, where we delved into her inspirations and design process; burned some sage; and swooned over incredible Saint Clair pieces in the flesh. Prepare to be obsessed!
Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
How would you describe your brand? Who is the Saint Clair girl?
"The Saint Clair aesthetic is not style- or age-specific, but more about the qualities [a woman] possesses. The Saint Clair girl stands out in a crowd — she is strong and knows what she wants, but is also a bit quirky. She has a bohemian edge and appreciates subtle details. She is curious and has a wide range of interests."

DeNada Beanie; Evil Twin Overalls; Converse Sneakers.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Tell us about your new studio at 52 O Street. What's your day-to-day life like?
"It always starts with a French press with my studio mate, Caitlin, and lately we’ve been listening to a whole lot of Beyoncé. Like most folks, every day begins with some general procrastination, deep breaths, and organization. Every day is a bit different — and very dependent upon how many orders I have to fill for stores. Some days are dedicated strictly to email catch-up, while others are for designing new pieces (which undoubtedly results in late-night creative benders)."

Where were you creating your pieces before you moved in here?
"I had a studio in my house, but once the opportunity came up at O Street, I couldn’t resist. Separating my home life from my work life has really helped me focus."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Archer DIY'd her boatneck shirt from an old mock turtleneck and snagged these rad overalls from Redeem.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Tell us about your design-to-execution process.
"It varies. Sometimes, I draw my ideas out and execute them in the studio, and 90% of the time, the final product looks entirely different from the sketch. Other times, I will just sit down and have at it."

An abundance of Archer's edgy-bohemian pieces.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Where do you get your inspiration?
"I take inspiration from everywhere. I am inspired by the American Southwest landscape [from] a recent cross-country trip; astrology; intricate textile designs; Japanese origami patterns; and more recently, the colors and liveliness of Ugandan culture. I studied anthropology in college, so cultural/ornamental decoration continues to inform my designs. And, I am inspired and fueled by elements of nature, and evocations of discovery and imagination."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Archer wears a trio of pastel Saint Clair bracelets — the perfect springtime stack.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Do you have a personal favorite piece? Do you pick favorites?
"I definitely pick favorites. Anouk and Prince have always been favorite necklaces. I really like Ileana, as well — it’s a great layering piece and has a bit more of a bohemian edge. Great for spring and summer."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Did you always know you wanted to be a jewelry designer, or was it something you happened into?
"I definitely happened into it, but I guess it wasn’t completely out of the blue, because I have always enjoyed working with my hands."

Urban Outfitters Skirt; Hometown Heroes Tee; Anthropologie Shoes.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What's it like to own your own business?
"It’s incredibly liberating, and I feel that what I have learned in the past year and a half are invaluable lessons that can be applied to any facet of life. You have to practice patience, but you also have to be persistent, which in nature, is a bit of a paradox. Being an independent designer and in charge of your own brand is a real personal endeavor. It feels incredibly vulnerable to put yourself out there, but it’s been more rewarding than anything else."

What surprised you most about going out on your own? What's one thing most people wouldn't know?
"It’s a major juggling act from design to procuring materials to production, marketing, attending trade shows, organizing photo shoots, lookbook conceptualization, building a client database, maintaining customer relationships, etc. And, it seems like you're racing against time and always playing catch-up. There is always something to be done. I thought I would have more time to myself since I am my own boss, but it’s really the opposite. I’m a perfectionist and really hard on myself, so I can always do a 'better' job."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What do you like the least?
"Taxes, taxes, taxes, taxes."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
We love how you decorated your space. How would you describe your design style in a few words?
"Valencia filter."

If you had an unlimited budget to make changes, what would you do to the place?
"I would knock out part of the wall and install a large sliding barn door that leads to an outdoor deck — with room for a daybed, an herb garden, and tomato plants. I would install a giant skylight, and then create a small area for a full kitchenette. I would buy a bunch of the art that I have been coveting, and my walls would drip with the work of inspiring artists."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
You were born and raised in the District. What's it like to be a lifer?
"I definitely feel a bond [with] D.C., and I feel very proud to watch it sort of transform with new restaurants and pop-ups, like Thread at Union Market. D.C. will always be home, so it is very comfortable, and if I had to, I could find my way around backwards and with my eyes closed. When someone asks me where I grew up, they are always very surprised by my answer. It usually warrants a very confused 'Wait, you're, like, actually from here?' and I am proud of that."

Do you think D.C. is an easy place to be an independent designer?
"I feel very supported here, and the [community] among artists in D.C. is born out of a kinship — not a competitive edge. I can only imagine what it would be like in super saturated creative spaces like NYC and L.A. But, I imagine D.C. is not as 'on the surface' as those places — so you have to dig a little bit to find your place here. That being said, D.C. is very receptive to its artists. D.C. has a smaller community without all the pretensions of somewhere bigger, and that feels comforting, it feels supportive, and it feels like we are growing together."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
"I would love to expand the brand to include home goods and other lifestyle items. Maybe even have a brick-and-mortar store. I had the opportunity to design a new collection, plus home goods, for One Mango Tree, a dear friend’s fair-trade company in Uganda. I played around with various hand-dyeing techniques and learned how to create beautiful woven textiles on the loom with skilled artisans from the community. I had such a blast and really enjoyed working with a totally different medium. And, since getting home from Uganda, I’ve been paying more attention to textiles."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
If you could pick a dream client to wear your jewelry, who would it be?
"Anyone from the Girls cast, Michelle Williams, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
We love this leather-on-leather look. Now, if only we could make a hat look this good!

Rag & bone Hat; Zara Striped Top; Vintage Leather Skirt; Steve Madden Booties.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
How would you describe your personal style?
"Denim, boots, tees, and hats are staples of mine in my day-to-day, but I like to be a bit funkier when I'm going out."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What does your perfect day in D.C. involve?
"Well, first, that day would not be in the winter! So, fast forward to spring/summer, and my perfect day would be a sunny hike in Rock Creek Park with my dog, Zephyr; yoga outdoors; and a glass of wine with girlfriends in someone’s backyard."

Fill in the blank: If I weren't a jewelry designer, I'd be ______.
"An animal-sanctuary owner and professional sourcer of beautiful collectibles from all over the world."

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