Farmers Market Update

Farmers Market Update – March 2024

A Common Thread: Meaza Haile and the 8 AM Mission

By Madhavi Athanikar

Meaza Haile at her Farmers' Market booth
Meaza Haile at her Farmers’ Market booth.

In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abeba (also called Addis Ababa), Meaza Haile grew up with many advantages. Her family had a trucking business that provided for her material needs, and she maintained a support system of friends, parents, siblings, and extended relatives, which offered a sense of security and opportunity. She had, for the most part, one of the rarest of all things: a happy childhood. During the time of her carefree youth, she discovered her first love, tennis, on a neighborhood court.

For Meaza, tennis was more than just a pastime. The court was a window into other worlds, for it was almost exclusively used by travelers. Passersby from all over the globe would make use of the facility for exercise and recreation. As ambassadors and embassy workers wandered in and out of her life through the court, Meaza’s curiosity about other cultures and faraway countries inspired a hunger for exploring beyond her immediate space. It would be many years before her wanderlust would find a creative outlet through the medium of dress, a universal form of self-expression.

Due to political unrest in Ethiopia, Meaza immigrated to the U.S. in 1992. She arrived in Dallas, then moved to Washington, D.C. where she enrolled in IT training and worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom. She eventually moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she continued to pursue her interest in fashion design. It was at the College of Alameda’s Apparel Design and Merchandising program that she and a fellow student decided to open their own business. 8 AM Fashion was the brainchild of that collaboration, the name inspired by days spent as a fashion design student in early morning classes with big dreams and lofty plans.

The focus of Meaza’s design concept is to elevate cultural heritage using unique prints specific to the African diaspora and to advance sustainable design practices.

She showcases her designs, and does tailoring as well, at the 8 AM Fashion storefront located at 474 Santa Clara, just off of Grand Ave.  Meaza also has a presence at the Grand Lake Farmers Market where she works her booth, shares her story with visitors, and showcases some of the more definitive pieces in her collection. She is the 2024 recipient of an Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) Racial Equity Fund grant, which supports artisans, farmers, and food producers of color with vending costs and fees associated with the Market.

Meaza recently started partnering with Urban Furniture (a non-profit second-hand store and retail training program on Grand Avenue) in a project designed to teach sewing skills to young, struggling mothers.  The students in the program are producing tote bags available for purchase in the shop. 

A message of unity is the common thread in each and every piece in the 8 AM fashion collection. For Meaza this message goes back to her childhood days of weekends on the tennis courts of Addis Abeba. She continues to draw from those memories as she pushes forward in her mission to provide comfortable, artful and accessible designer fashion for all.

For more information on Meaza’s original designs and community events, please visit www.8amfashion.com

Some of Meaza’s designs — available at the farmers’ market and at her store on Santa Clara Ave.


Farmers Market Entertainment Calendar for March

(Weather-dependent)

3/2/2024: Phat Luv Band

3/9/2024: Scott Pullman

3/16/2024: Essie Thomas

3/23/2024: Can’t Go Beach

3/30/2024: Donnie

The Out of Town Couple (Roger Brown and Leslie Thorne) performed at the Farmers’ Market on February 24.

For more information about the Farmers’ Market, including an updated list of vendors, go to their website here.


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Comments

One response to “Farmers Market Update – March 2024”

  1. Ken Katz Avatar
    Ken Katz

    Madhavi,

    Love your profile of Meaza and would add that I’m looking forward to Donnie Williams joining the list of local musicians performing at the market beginning on March 30. If you’re not familiar with the name, he’s the vocalist who has become something of an institution in front of Chipotle and Donnie was also a finalist in Season 3 of American Idol. Here’s a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnie_Williams

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