Jessica Solarcyzk has been a professional photographer since 2012, when she first opened her own business, Sweet Serendipity Photography. She’s been photographing families, weddings, seniors, and more ever since — all in her hometown of Stoystown, Pennsylvania.
But recently, Solarcyzk got some new (and unexpected) inspiration from her 5-year-old daughter, Emerson Rose, while chatting with the kindergartner about her hopes and dreams.
“We were talking about what she wanted to be when she grows up and she told me ‘I can do anything boys can do, and I can do it in heels!'” says Solarcyk.
Her daughter’s bold — and pretty badass — comment stayed with her, and made her start thinking about all of the inspiring women who have paved the way for girls everywhere.
“I have always admired Amelia Earhart and her fearlessness,” Solarcyzk tells Babble. “I was browsing around on Pinterest one day looking up inspirational quotes by Earhart and other famous women when I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole. These quotes all spoke to me.”
It wasn’t long before a new photo series began to take shape in her mind — starring Emerson Rose.
In the last month alone, the mother-daughter duo has channeled a handful of famous women — from Frida Kahlo to Susan B. Anthony — with Emerson eagerly dressing up to play the part of each one. And according to her mom, dressing up and learning the stories of so many barrier-breaking women was Emerson’s favorite part. (She thought Frida’s infamous unibrow was so cool, she continued to wear it all day — long after the shoot had wrapped.)
Finding some of the women’s most inspiring words was also half the fun for Solarcyzk.
“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” read the words of Frida Kahlo.
And from one of Susan B. Anthony’s seminal lectures in 1876: “No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”
According to her mom, Emerson was particularly excited to become Amelia Earhart and Malala Yousafzai. “She thinks that Amelia was so brave for flying all alone and that Malala is fearless and strong for all she has done,” says Solarcyck. “It was a great teaching moment getting to tell her the stories of these fearless women.”
Emerson did have one condition before the photo shoot, though: that she would get to wear red lipstick for at least one picture. And it looks like the 5-year-old is a pretty good negotiator — Solarcyzk says she was finally able to put some on for her photo shoot as Rosie the Riveter. (“It was basically the best day of her life!”)
Until recently, the photo series was just a quiet side-hobby for the mother-daughter pair, shared only on her own Facebook page. But when Solarcyzk shared the images in the private Facebook group Pantsuit Nation last month, the response was overwhelming. And she says, it’s inspired her to keep going with it.
“I was totally overwhelmed by the amazing response in Pantsuit Nation!” says Solarcyzk. “I’ve received quite a few private messages and shed a few happy tears over the kind words. After the positive response of this photo series, I definitely have more ideas floating around in my head!”
Next up? Hillary Clinton.
Says Solarcyzk, “I believe ordering a tiny pantsuit is in order!”