You’ve got to love a girl who can chow down without complaining about carbs. When Camila grabbed a sandwich, and then two with a handful of fries, without blinking an eye, I knew she was made of good stuff. Born in the small Brazilian town of Virginópolis in Minas Gerais, to a mother who packed up her kids and moved to the US after a divorce, she was raised fearless. “We were completely free as kids. There was no danger, only innocence… the town we were raised in was safe and small, my grandfather had a farm and everyone knew each other…” she smiles. “I’m so proud of it.”
Camila spent the first 14 years of her life in complete freedom and the belief that people were essentially good. Not much changed with her move to
the States. “It was exciting, even though I didn’t want to leave my home town,” she says with a typically glass-half-full outlook, of times that can’t have been a breeze. But then again, she didn’t relocate to a place packed with strangers. The entire family joined Camila’s uncle, a successful restaurateur, in Pennsylvania. A talented chef, her mother joined the business and supported her four children singlehandedly.
Watching her mother work hard must have rubbed off. The moment she turned 16, Camila swapped cheerleading for working at a pizza parlour. “I always wanted to be independent and started working odd jobs to make money. Some kids don’t want to work, and I was one of the kids who did.” Two years later, the self-confessed nerd, who the entire family thought would go to college, decided to get her own apartment in Boston and try her hand at something bigger. She was only 18. “I left my mum’s house, my comfort zone, with just the words, ‘Mum I will make you proud.’ I’m so happy I lived up to my promise.”
What made her do it? A year before graduating high school, when she was only 17, she met Icaro. It was love, almost immediately. Also hailing from 20,000-people- strong Virginópolis, he was just 19 years old. After a year of long-distance, Camila was ready for her leap of faith, bolstered by the man who she would go on to marry and partner with in work and life. “I’ve got to admit, leaving my mum’s home and getting my own place was the most fearless thing I’ve ever done. Even Icaro tells me it was really brave of me …I’m so glad I did. So much has happened because I moved. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now!” she smiles.
Always passionate about beauty, Camila started working at the Dior counter in a Macy’s department store as a make-up artist. Simultaneously, she discovered YouTube. Her weekdays were spent perfecting her make-up skills and the weekends packed with hours of filming videos for her YouTube channel. “I loved doing it and Icaro thought it was fantastic. He was always very business minded and was the one person who told me that the internet was the future and what I was doing would someday make me big. I remember laughing about it and calling him crazy.”
Icaro knew what he was talking about. After starting her blog and videos in 2011, it only took three years for Camila to get on the cover of Glamour Magazine in Brazil. “That was when I knew I had made it. It was a big deal for me. People would look at us and be like, ‘Oh these bloggers!’ It was the first time I saw important media believing in us and I finally felt ‘OK, this is working!’ People are slowly going to start seeing that blogging is a profession.”
Now considered one of the world’s most powerful beauty and fashion influencers, Camila is a force that cannot be ignored. But there’s absolutely nothing about her or Icaro that would hint at what a big deal they’ve become. How does she stay so grounded? “When you have real people with you, like good friends, you’re reminded of who you are and what matters. I really try to spend time with my friends who were close to me when I was just a make-up artist. Coming to my home town is another grounding force… I love it. When I leave it I feel like I’ve been in therapy… you can offer me a free trip to the Maldives when I’m there and I would say no!”
The couple still go back to Virginópolis at least twice a year for a much-needed reset, and take great pride in giving back to a place that made them who they are. “We try to do a lot of charity work for our town and recently remodeled
the whole surgery wing of the hospital…”
Finding a slice of her beloved Virginópolis in Icaro when she was 17 has everything to do with where she is today. He’s the business brains behind her brand and her anchoring force. There was no PDA at our shoot, but there might as well have been bucket loads of it; they’re so clearly completely besotted with one another that it made me believe in all kinds of real fairytales. You know, the grown-up sort where the man doesn’t sweep the woman of her feet, or vice versa. Instead, it’s the kind where you share the same roots, and beneath all of your layered differences, are essentially the same. Has fame and success changed their relationship a lot since they were teens? “It has and it hasn’t. We’ve grown so much together. I still see us as 17 and 19 year olds… we’re still the same way with one another… of course we’re more mature and have learned so much through life but we still have the same way of thinking. I’m so happy we didn’t let this world get to us…”
The couple live in Boston, firmly staying away from the glitterati of LA and New York. “LA scares me,” Camila laughs. Icaro’s family lives in Boston and Camila’s mother is just a few hours away in Pennsylvania, which is exactly how she and Icaro both like it. “Family is really important to us. His parents are like my parents and both our sets of siblings absolutely love each other. I’m so lucky. In fact, his sibling and mine also work with us.”
How does she work with family without tearing her hair out? “We’ve been working together for the past six and a half years. It’s hard to separate business from your personal life. You need to just make sure that your relationship is a priority. We have rules at home… like talking about work only till a certain time. It would be so much harder if we weren’t working together. In this business there’s so much travel, Icaro and I would be spending too much time apart. I would end up wanting to be at home with him and wouldn’t be doing as much. We’re so grateful to be able to grow and accomplish things together.”
Camila changes into a crop top and loose linen trousers after the shoot wraps up, as Icaro lazes on the couch, laughing easily at another one of my lame isn’t-the-Dubai-summer-amazing jokes. “That was such a great day,” Camila beams, as Icaro takes my number saying we should definitely meet up for a meal when they’re in town next. With her love of carbs rivalling that of yours truly, I promise them I’ll be there in sweats. “I’ll beat you to it!” she laughs and we hug goodbye. They’ve got their priorities right – food over fashion any day.
Interview: Kavita Srinivasan
Photography: Adam Browning-Hill
Styling: Chloe Bosher
make-up: katherine sherman
hair: belle femme
All Jewellery: Damas jewellery
All Fashion: Madiyah Al Sharqi
Location: PALAZZO Versace Dubai