JEM OF THE SOUTH / ATLANTA, GEORGIA
Tamara Eckles is a blogging expert, a mentor, and a pioneer. More than a decade has flown by since Tamara first created her baking blog, Jem of the South, which unleashed her passion for baking and teaching others. With the blog, she found a place where she could encourage her followers to “discover something sweet” because, as she says, “happy memories and togetherness are often centered around sweets.” It may be difficult to imagine today, but Tamara entered the blogging world at a time when Twitter and personal websites were among the only options to share online baking content, and Instagram and Pinterest were just entering the scene. Not only did Tamara help pave the way for baking bloggers with her drive and ingenuity, she also explored the world of podcasting relatively early. Jem of the South Radio provided an alternate venue where Tamara could network and reach fellow bakers, educating and inspiring those with similar dreams. Starting in 2011, she recorded more than 50 interviews with industry front-runners like chef Padua Player, a.k.a. SugaChef, and royal icing superstar Julia Usher. It takes a true leader to lift others up in the pursuit of their own passion, and without people like Tamara, our community centered around baking wouldn’t be what it is today. For bloggers, podcasters, and bakers alike, Tamara is an inspiration—a true gem.