Tamara Jackson has built her career on providing healthy local food to patrons along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. That’s no coincidence: From a young age, Jackson’s parents taught her to incorporate fresh foods from the garden into her cooking. After working as a restaurant inspector for the Dorchester County Health Department, Jackson started her first business: a carryout restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. Her second business, a small cafe serving farm-to-table food, confirmed for her that, as she says, “many restauranteurs were so busy creating appetizers and entrees that they seem to have limited time in which to create delicate desserts.” She decided to start a company that would fill this market void.
In 2017, Jackson launched T’s Divine Sweets & More, marketing desserts like peach cheesecake, decadent chocolate cake, and cheesecake with hot apple compote to restaurants on Maryland’s Eastern Shore as well as directly to customers. She markets her business through newspapers, social media, radio advertisements and word-of-mouth.
“My biggest challenges to date have been to learn to be flexible and to scale the business as it is growing and expanding into various areas along Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” says Jackson.
Jackson won first place in the popular vote for desserts at the 2018 Celebrate Dorchester event sponsored by the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce. She now sells her desserts at restaurants in four Maryland counties.
Jackson developed her business plan with help from SCORE Mid-Shore chapter chair John C. Franke and SCORE mentor George Howie. Franke and Howie also provided market and financial management advice during her initial idea phase. Jackson reached out to them again as she was getting ready to launch.
“Mr. Franke and Mr. Howie met with me and provided information that was invaluable regarding the path forward process for my planned business,” says Jackson. “SCORE Mid Shore advisors instilled in me great confidence to pursue, persist and prosper.”