Sarah Smyth does not consider herself a fashion icon, but her company, Raw and Rebellious, is setting trends left and right in the South.
In the first exclusive interview, Smyth opened up to The Plainsman about what made her company what it is today and how she couldn’t have done it alone.
From Huntsville, Smyth was visiting her grandmother while on summer break in 2016 from Auburn at home and randomly decided to get some materials in a vintage shop to make herself some jewelry.
“I was about to go study abroad and was broke beyond belief,” Smyth said. “I bought just some beads and got some stuff from Hobby Lobby to make myself some jewelry. My grandpa helped me make some necklaces.”
With the help of her grandparents, Smyth made her first piece of jewelry and wore it to a music festival that summer.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Smyth said.
Smyth posted a picture on Instagram while wearing her new jewelry, and immediately, she began receiving direct messages, asking where she had gotten her necklace.
From there, Sarah Smyth Designs was born.
Her chic designs quickly became in-demand, as Smyth’s jewelry was picked up by a local boutique from Huntsville, and her direct message inbox on Instagram was being blown up with inquiries.
“I probably had five orders a week at first,” Smyth said. “I pretty much did that all summer. Then, once school started back my senior year in the fall, and it started growing the following year.”
This year, Smyth’s company grew beyond her expectations.
“It’s insane how fast everything has grown and taken off,” she said.
The fashion inspiration for her jewelry line is not anything special, she said, but it is more of her own style than anything else.
“Originally, I was never making stuff to sell,” Smyth said. “I was making things that I liked that I would want to wear, and I’ve just continued with that. I
As her company grew, Smyth realized that the name had to change. She never liked “Sarah Smyth Designs,” but she never thought it would grow as large as it did.
“There were so many girls making jewelry out there,” Smyth said. “I wanted it to be more me.”
With the help of her close friend Alli Murphree, Smyth started brainstorming for new, unique names that would better label her company.
“She told me to just send her some words that I liked and that described me and my jewelry,” Smyth said. “She’s in fashion, so she knew what I needed to do.”
Smyth and Murphree narrowed it down to a few names, but “Raw and Rebellious” is what stuck.
With the new name, Smyth wanted a new logo, and that is where her lip logo came in, with the help of another friend, Christine Cameron.
“She’s super artistic and is designing lingerie for Victoria’s Secret right now in New York,” Smyth said of Cameron. “She agreed to sketch up a couple logos for me, and the one we chose went well with ‘Raw and Rebellious.’”
Though her mom hated the name at first, Raw and Rebellious became the name of her company, and Smyth has never looked back.
Though Smyth doesn’t consider herself on top of fashion, her advice for everyone is to wear what you love and what makes you happy. The biggest impact that she wants to have on fashion to for it to become all-inclusive without making a big deal out of it.
In her newest campaign, Smyth had girls with special needs join her models and become models themselves, but it is important to her that these girls are treated equally and that including them in fashion campaigns be normalized.
“We’re starting to step away from stigmatizing people with disabilities, but it’s like we’ve overstepped it,” Smyth said. “I see things all the time about people with disabilities being praised for going to prom and normal stuff, and that shouldn’t be a big deal for them. They’re normal people, too.”
Smyth wants people to realize that people with special needs are not any different than everyone else, and it is the time that they
“I really wanted to do something where I showed that these girls are the same as us,” Smyth said. “I see campaigns where people go out and say, ‘beauty is inclusive’ and ‘everyone is beautiful no matter what’ and make a big deal about the models being disabled, but that isn’t what I wanted to do.”
The girls featured in Raw and Rebellious’ newest campaign went camping where Smyth worked last summer.
She brought them and a few other
“I didn’t want [the campaign] the bring any attention to their disability,” Smyth said. “I just wanted to do a pure campaign of these beautiful girls are the girls modeling my jewelry and just leave it at that.”
Smyth graduated in May 2017 with a degree in occupational therapy and Spanish, but she has put off graduate school for a little longer to expand her jewelry company and have fun while she can.
Smyth just moved to Atlanta and has expanded her company just a little bit.
She keeps it in The Auburn Family, though, as her brother Ethan Smyth, a junior in software engineering, does her accounting, and a recent Auburn graduate, Anna Keidel, is her full-time employee.
Smyth believes that fashion is abstract and always moving, and that’s what she loves about her company.
Her jewelry company was never what she thought she would be doing right out of college, and it’s not her endgame, but Smyth says she thankful to be doing something that she loves and is fun in her twenties.