A ballerina/author, an actress from a popular TV series, an aesthetician and a budding veterinarian, the Van Camp sisters are a bunch of driven, successful women. We love their passion, grit and how they thrive in whichever industry they are in. Naturally, we invited them to be our Fieldtesters – inspiring people whose stories we share and who fieldtest our pants in their work and travels.
Katie Van Camp (Ballerina and Author), Emily Van Camp (Actress), Alison Van Camp (Aesthetician) and Molly Van Camp (Veterinary Medicine Student).
What was the van Camp household like growing up?
ALISON: Life in our house changed a lot for me as a young girl. It went from being the second of three. To the second of four then to just being me and the fourth at home. My youngest years seemed to be so busy and chaotic with juggling everyone’s hobbies and school and three girls close in age just gets a little crazy. When Katie, then Emily moved away things seemed to calm down a lot around home. (Accept of course my crazy driving schedule for Molly’s dance!).
MOLLY: For me, being the youngest, it was relatively quiet as it was only Alison and I living at home and then only myself after grade 6. The phone rang a lot, that double ring that meant long distance, which meant one of my sisters was calling. And then, when we would all get together it was manic. But I remember thinking how fun it was to have such chaos in the house!
KATIE: It was interesting. We are a family of five girls (including my mom), so my Dad was quite outnumbered. That should give you a sense of the dynamic. It was a girl-power household. We lived in a small town in Ontario, Canada and things were quite normal for the first nine years of my life.
Best thing about being a band of four sisters?
KATIE: Each sister has their own perspective, characteristics and set of incredible talents. There’s always someone able to lend a hand, an ear, or offer a hug (even if it’s a virtual hug from afar). Combining our skills, it’s rare one of us won’t be able to help the other with something challenging that might come up in our lives.
EMILY: This has been coming up a lot for me recently. As I’m thinking about starting my own family soon I find myself reflecting on my childhood all the time. The laughter, the secrets, the love, the sisterhood. I can’t imagine not having that. I can’t imagine not having the support that only my siblings could offer as I embarked on the many exciting and yet frightening adventures this life has taken me on. There truly is nothing like it.
ALISON: Having 3 sisters has to be one of the most special things to have in life. We all have such unique relationships with one another but there has never been a time that I felt like I didn’t have someone there for me when I needed them.
MOLLY: I had 3 big sisters which was the greatest thing in the world. There has never been a time where someone hasn’t been through what I’m going through or when no one has had advice for me. At least one (usually all) would have words of wisdom, which I well and truly lived by. Even living so far away, I carried my sister’s words with me. They were all so successful, classy, and fun that I figured they must know a thing or two about maneuvering through this world!
EMILY: Good byes. And our niece and nephew make it that much harder now.
KATIE: I’d say we all have strong personalities and because we didn’t live together over the years, we do sometimes need a little time to feel at ease all together again. Also the endless goodbyes are hard.
ALISON: There isn’t too many bad things about being a band of 4 sisters. We all have strong personalities so things can get a little heated at times.
MOLLY: The goodbyes, the missing each other.
How aligned are your values and motivations for life, and why?
ALISON: I would say that somehow or another we have all ended up, and grown up, with very similar values, morals and motivations in life. While we are all different one from the other, our commonality is that we strive to be the best at whatever we put our hearts and minds to. I definitely give credit to my parents for not letting anything stand in the way of our happiness, and for keeping the four of us girls so close. They instilled strong family values.
MOLLY: We had the most amazing parents that let us pursue our dreams no matter how wild. And the funny thing is we all had such different dreams and motivations. I believe that we all share the same core values that we use in our own ways to pursue our life goals.
KATIE: Our parent instilled strong morals and values from day one. While we’ve all followed our own paths and grown into individuals with our own set of priorities (and sometimes differing perspectives), fundamentally we all share a value system that connects us. We are all very motivated individuals because of the endless support and encouragement of our parents.
EMILY: I would say we have very similar values with very different goals. That’s an incredibly special and unique thing in our family and a testament to our parents. They encouraged us to be individuals rather than to be successful which gave us freedom to run with our dreams. That’s not always the easiest thing on the child or the parent but has proved to be a very selfless form of parenting.
Why did you leave dance to pursue acting as a career?
EMILY: I fell in love with it. I always loved to express myself creatively but never knew anything outside of dance. I slowly realized I was loving my acting classes more than dance, started working in the acting field and the rest was history.
You started acting before Emily did. Given a choice, would you have continued it? Why did you decide to open a ballet school instead?
KATIE: Being a dancer, I was conditioned to feel as though one must put in a lot of time and train hard in order to succeed. When my knees got so bad, I couldn’t continue to pursue ballet and I felt quite lost. I needed an outlet for my creative energy. By chance, I ended up landing a supporting role in a film alongside John Malkovich, Lorraine Bracco and Molly Parker. After that, I joined a theatre group and an agent scouted me. But instead of jumping into the business, I decided I needed to go to theatre school before I could feel confident enough to pursue acting professionally. I deferred my spot with the agency and enrolled at a theatre school in Vancouver, but not before introducing the agent to my sister, Emily. She was always so vivacious and funny and quirky. They loved her from the start, and the rest is history.
I do sometimes wonder what might have happened if I had signed with the agency and just went for it. But I don’t have regrets about my life path as it’s taken me to such interesting places and challenged me in so many ways: modeling in China, opening up a ballet school in Shanghai, working as an au pair for a high-profile American family, and publishing two children’s books with HarperCollins.
Do you feel as though your life is an open book as an actress?
EMILY: Sometimes, but I’m very much an introvert in many ways so I’m open when I want to be open and retreat when I want to retreat. I’m very much a home body. I’m a nester and a country girl at heart. I will always be trying to find that balance.
The both of you move around the world quite often, especially Katie. How has this affected your relationship as siblings? How do you girls maintain the close ties?
EMILY: Facetime! I facetime with at least one family member a day. I love it. It keeps us all up to date and involved in each others lives. I also love random meetings in crazy places. Kate and I met up in the Philippines while she was pregnant and it was a precious, lovely time and that is just one of our cool encounters across the globe. I always look forward to the next.
KATIE: We’ve made really beautiful memories through the travels we’ve done together – whether it’s my sisters coming to visit me, me visiting them, or us meeting in exotic locations to catch up. FaceTime has been amazing for our relationships – especially now that we are introducing nieces and nephews into the equation.
What defines home for you?
KATIE: I have three ‘homes’ in my heart. The home I share with my husband, Craig, and my daughter, Ivy. We move around quite a bit so we’ve called Montreal, New York, St. Barths and Tokyo home (and continue to feel deep roots in those places), and have just started a new adventure in Singapore, which is our current home in the literal sense of the word. Another home to me is Port Perry, Ontario, in the house/town we grew up in. That will forever feel like home because it’s where I was born and where my childhood unfolded. Finally, if I’m with one, or all, of my immediate family members, there’s a feeling of being home. We have a shared history.
EMILY: Home to me is Port Perry and LA really. I have tons of love and support in both places. I never thought I’d call LA home but it’s about the people you surround yourself with. Home truly is where the heart is and I feel at home when I’m with family and close friends.
If the both of you were to collaborate on a dream project, what would you do?
KATIE: We’ve discussed this on and off over the years. We do hope to collaborate on something one day… for now it’s still very much to be determined. It’s difficult because we’re living so far apart. That said, I wrote my two children’s books collaborating with the illustrator via skype and email, so you just never know. I’d love to see us co-write something. We’ve discussed having a little shop with housewares and children’s clothes. We also once dreamed about starting a non-profit and have discussed a few causes that are close to both of our hearts.
Traveling plays a huge part in both of your lives. How has traveling and adapting to different environments changed your views on the world?
EMILY: I really believe that travel and gaining new perspective is the best way to learn. It has informed my work, the way I connect with people, the way I connect with myself. My parents always said that they would rather be in debt and travel with their children than to have money and keep us shielded from the world. The memories were more important to them and continue to be to us.
KATIE: To date I’ve lived in six countries, and traveled to many more. I love experiencing how people live, love, and communicate around the world whether it be through observation or exchange. I thrive on finding my place, my routine, building relationships and my sense of home in cities that are so foreign to the way I grew up. Travel and living overseas naturally opens ones mind and can challenge us in ways we never expected. Overcoming obstacles or finding a new side of myself, as I figure out my way, helps me grow as a person and connects me to more people and places around the world.
Katie is wearing the Classic Wideleg + Leharia Charcoal, Emily is wearing the Sunday Overalls + Kangura Charcoal, Alison is wearing the Sideswept Dhoti + Chambray Teal, and Molly is wearing the Classic Wideleg + Trikora.