A Ray of Starlight

A Ray of StarlightJami Ray embraces the challenges of a new job, husband and baby with her signature laid-back style
By Zandra WolfgramJami Ray. Photo by Scott Holstein

Remember “That Girl” from the ’60s? Bouncy brown tresses, a winning smile, a get-hold-of-the-world-by-the-tail attitude? That girl is Jami Ray. Savvy, creative and a sucker for all things girly, Ray, 27, is a communications star on the rise.

A native of Tallahassee who now lives in Freeport with her new husband, Hunter, Ray is putting to good use the master’s degree she earned in corporate and public communication from Florida State University in 2008. Last fall, she was recruited to the Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council as the community relations and public relations coordinator, tasked with promoting the area as a cultural destination.

She is particularly excited about another responsibility: social media.

“I love social media. I love the immediacy and the impact you can have,” she says. It’s a perfect fit for this social girl. Ray’s Facebook days date back to the fall of 2004, when she and her college sorority sisters looked to Facebook (then only available to users with .edu emails) to find high school friends and get updates on homework assignments. Though she was on the forefront of social media, it took awhile for business colleagues at her first professional job as marketing director at the Santa Rosa Beach Club to catch up. “At first, no one was using it at work. It was a social time-killer. No one saw it as useful,” she tells. But Ray soon changed that, and the Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club was one of the first companies on the Emerald Coast to integrate Facebook into its communication strategies.

While at the Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club, Ray, a self-proclaimed daydreamer, made up quite a business idea — literally. When one of the club’s wedding coordinators needed a last minute make-up artist, Ray, who says she “loves an excuse to experiment with makeup,” grabbed the opportunity along with her make-up brushes. That was when she took a first blush at forming her own company called Pretty Sweet Makeup, which she still manages as a side business.

There is much more to Ray’s makeup. She is actively engaged in several professional associations. When she shifted into a public relations-focused job role, she traded in her board role with the Emerald Coast Advertising Federation to serve as membership chair for the Florida Public Relations Association. She is also on the steering committee for YP (Young Professionals) at the Beach, a group managed by the Bay and Walton chambers of commerce that fosters young leaders. At press time, Ray was helping to arrange a speaking engagement for former Arkansas governor (and likely presidential aspirant) Mike Huckabee.

Though she is a recent graduate herself, Ray somehow finds time to teach communication classes twice a week as an adjunct professor at Florida State University-Panama City.

And as if that isn’t enough, another significant deadline: delivering a baby girl, Emery, in March! How is Ray handling the many “life events” that have come her way? “Some people may be stressed by what I do on a daily basis, but I am pretty laid back and just take it as it comes,” she says with a smile.

What does the future hold for this rising star? “I’m still figuring it out. I love what I’m doing now but I also love the possibility of something I’m not even aware of being out there.”  ec