Woman on the RISE – Jenny Solar
Founder’s Name & Title: Josh + Jenny Solar
Best contact email: email@example.com
Your 140-character pitch: We’re cultivating a happy, loving, close-knit family & helping others do the same!
Your immediate region: Kansas City, MO
What do people think you do for a living? Photograph weddings and families, blog a little bit, and travel with my family.
What do you actually do for a living? I photograph weddings and families, blog a LOT, answer emails, meet with clients, design wedding albums, attempt to create graphics for my website, write guest posts for other blogs, spend TONS of time on other back-end duties of running a photography business and a blog! Oh, and I do travel a ton with my family!
Tell us about your passions!
I’m passionate about telling stories. Telling my story, telling our family stories, telling other peoples’ stories. I think that’s why photography is so important to me. Photographs have a way of telling a story that you could never be told in words alone. There is so much beauty in this life and those stories need to be told. I love documenting these stories for other people with photographs.
I’m also passionate about raising a happy family. My childhood was rough and I grew up feeling unloved and unwanted. Because of that, I want nothing more for my kids than for them to grow up happy and loved. I spend a lot of my time focusing on cultivating a happy, loving, close-knit family and then sharing that with the world through my blog.
Who|what inspires what you do?
My kids and my husband inspire me. Like I said, I had a rough childhood. My parents divorced when my twin brother and I were toddlers. We never got to know our dad and then he died when we were eight years old.
My mom was a druggie and she sold drugs out of our house to pay for her habit. She was verbally and physically abusive. She lied to me, she stole from me, she beat me. But worst of all, she didn’t love me. Not the way a mother should. And so I grew up without a a dad and without a mom.
The incredible thing I’ve come to realize about my situation though, is that I can change almost everything. I can’t change the way I was raised or my childhood, but by giving my kids a different life, I can change everything for them. And for their kids and their kids and so on. By breaking the cycle of abuse and mistreatment for my kids, I can truly leave behind a legacy of love and happiness
Was there a turning point in your life that led you to your current career?
Josh and I started our photography business about 8 years ago, after I got a “standard” review at my terrible job that I hated. I quit two weeks later, went back to school full time to get my Master’s Degree, and we started photographing weddings two months later. Our photography business took off and before we knew it, within a few years both Josh and I were able to quit our day jobs and focus on photography full time.
About two years ago, we hired a business consultant for our photography business and she urged us to take our personal family blog to the next level. I had been blogging for about two years and we had built up a decent following. It was after that meeting with her that we decided to re-brand our blog and we created The Happy Family Movement.
Over the last six months, I’ve come to realize that inspiring families through The Happy Family Movement is my calling and we’ve begun to take a step back from wedding photography. The timing is great as well because this fall our littlest heads off to kindergarten. With all three of our kids in school, the idea of being gone evenings and weekends shooting weddings and engagement sessions isn’t ideal. I’m putting more and more time, love, and effort into The Happy Family Movement and I couldn’t be happier about it!
If money weren’t a factor, what would you be doing? I would be doing a lot of what I’m doing now. I think I’d hire someone to do most of the behind-the-scenes stuff for The Happy Family Movement and I’d focus 100% of my time and energy on the fun parts. And we would travel even more than we do now!
What’s on your Bucket List? There are SO SO many things on my bucket list!! I want to go on a hot air balloon ride, go cliff diving in Hawaii, go on a safari in Africa, climb all the stairs at the Eiffel Tower, learn to speak Spanish fluently, the list goes on and on. Mostly, I just want to show my kids the world and adventure with them!
Knowing all you know now, what would you tell your 20 year old self? I would tell myself to go after what I love. To not be afraid of failing. To stop caring about what other people think and just be yourself. I’d tell myself to quit worrying all the time because it’s all going to be okay. And I’d tell myself to soak in all the amazing times. And go out and see the world!!
What’s your go-to stress reliever? I’ll either take a hot bath with a sudoku book or head straight to Quik Trip for a fountain drink Pepsi!
How do you perceive retirement? I think when you love what you do and you work for yourself, you never really retire. But I see Josh and I spending lots of time with our kids and grandkids, traveling the world, adventuring, and just loving life!
Do you have a personal philosophy you’d like to share?
We always say our family motto is ‘Say yes to adventure’. I think I came up with this one day when I was trying to convince one of our kids to do something a little scary. We say it all the time now. For us, ‘Say yes to adventure’ means that we love to do exhilarating and crazy things like ziplining and dune buggying, riding roller coasters and rock climbing. But it’s also a reminder to get out there and experience life. ‘Say yes to adventure’ can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch at the last minute or ordering dessert at a fancy restaurant.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I want my kids to grow up and know they were loved. I want them to know they are capable of doing incredible things in their lifetime and I want to SHOW them how to impact change in the world. I want to inspire others to live intentionally and cultivate their own happy, loving, close-knit family.