RANCHO SANTA FE CONNECTOR - APRIL, 2017
Feature Story - Aimee Fuller Meals
Aimee Meals is a proud Country Friend, Navy wife and vibrant member of our community. With a magnetic voice, engaging wit and distinctive style, Aimee was born to glint from many angles. She has worked for KUSI-TV, reported for CNN, had her own radio show while interning in college and worked as the evening news anchor in markets across the country. Throughout her impressive broadcasting career, she has mastered one of the most difficult techniques in the biz and sat down with us fireside at The Inn to share her fascinating story.
Locally, she has been involved in our community since 2004 and is a Country Friend advocating positive change in the community. Aimee is also working on the Soroptimists' high tea fast approaching in April 30 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. She is designing an exclusive ‘Soroptimist Set’ of jewelry to be unveiled where proceeds will benefit women and children who are escaping lives of domestic violence.
Aimee’s interest in current affairs and community began in Zanesville, Ohio which was the state capital for a time. The small pioneer town of 30,000 was started in 1797 and eventually developed in close proximity to larger cities as they were founded later nearby. Her hometown became the first brick in building her exciting reporting career.
Aimee received a BA in Broadcast Journalism from Ohio State University and graduated in 1994. The morning after she graduated, she received a call from a local TV station affiliated with NBC. She was hired by the news director the same day to start her first job. Aimee became the morning and noon anchor where she also wrote, collected data and operated news feeds. “You had to embrace everything and be on the ball,” said Aimee. “I learned how to be organized and to take in everything people wanted to teach you.”
Aimee did her homework and mastered her action-packed and vastly detail-focused industry. Thirty seconds after she was done with doing her ‘cut-ins’ for the Today Show for the local news cast, she scurried down the hall to make it in time to deliver news updates on the station’s radio show. “I practiced being better. I never had the attitude that I’ll get better in time. If my writing and presentation wasn’t perfect THAT DAY, I had to make it so for the very next day. TV news is a very competitive field, and if you weren’t working hard and on top of your game, someone else certainly would be. And--it’s your face. You really don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your entire hometown!”
After eight months, Aimee secured her second job in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1995 as the weekend anchor. She worked there for a year soaking up more perspective and experience in reporting on live television. “You have to have the confidence and treat it like it is not what it is, talking live to many, many people…there is a technique to it; you have to get over your fear or you’re done” said Aimee.
A talent agent whose car broke down in Youngstown is partly responsible for her next job. He reached out and began representing her and Aimee soon landed the main anchor position in Peoria, Illinois. She then progressed to Southeast Texas to anchor the evening broadcasts at an NBC affiliate. In 2004, a job in California opened up and she investigated making the transition from Texas to San Diego. Aimee insisted a work acquaintance put her in touch with a friend whose company was hiring. That company was the parent company of KUSI-TV, and in 2004, she moved to San Diego and began reporting in the community. She eventually became the anchor for two broadcasts, The KUSI Morning News at 5am and the midday show, Inside San Diego.
Aimee worked alongside her friend Sandra Maas who has been a fixture in San Diego TV and who is also dedicated to contributing her time to local charity events. KUSI is an affiliate with CNN and part of Aimee’s job was to report for the world renowned station while out in the field. “You never knew when you would get the call to report for CNN until it happened,” explained Aimee. “You have to be ready for anything. When you wake up at 2 or 3 am, you literally have no idea where the day will take you.
Her advice to prospective journalists is to ‘garner an interest in people’ and their stories, or you’re not going to like the job. “Have a passion for learning new things everyday,” she encourages. “Be prepared to wear many hats, especially when you are first starting out. Know the law, know history and be a good writer. On top of all that be ethical and make sure your hair’s in place...wink, wink. At the end of the day, most of the emails and calls from viewers WILL be about the hair.”
Aimee first became aware of the rich charitable history of Rancho Santa Fe when she started covering the news in our community for KUSI-TV. “Our crews and I were constantly here covering benefits,” said Aimee. “The thing I love about Rancho Santa Fe is you know everybody and there are good people here. I'm thrilled and honored to now be a part of the Country Friends and to support organizations like the Rady Children's Hospital auxiliaries and The Soroptimist Club of Poway and North San Diego.”
Over the last 15 years, as well as becoming a reporting titan in our community, Aimee started designing and making jewelry. “I love bold, exotic statements without overpowering the lady,” she said. “I love color combos, scale and taking something simple then making it into wearable art,” said Aimee. “I also love the history of fashion. There’s something about the way society moves and the way the economy is going which defines what we wear.”
Aimee has also recently started making her own hats, which are on display at The Country Friends consignment store in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe. She also has one of the largest individual handmade jewelry stores on the Internet and over the years has sold to most every country around the globe. “I have almost as many sales in Canada, Australia and England as I do in the USA,” she expanded. Progressive in her approach, Aimee has also caught the eye of local media. In 2016 she won the grand prize award from FINE magazine at their high profile ‘Haute to Trot’ event in the hat contest.
“It's all very flattering and humbling,” she said. “It didn't have to happen that anyone would like my creations. The fact that all this did happen blows me away. I’m been very blessed, as I’ve been contacted about the possibility of going to London Fashion week with my hats in September. Yes, that's got me pretty amped up!”
Perhaps it is her eloquent and colorful style that first caught her future husband’s eye. They met at a Navy retirement of one of her friends from church in 2008 and instantly gravitated towards each other. “He said ‘hello’ and I said ‘hello’ right back,” she laughs. They were married two years later at the Island Club at the Naval Base on Coronado Island. Jeff Meals is a Chief Warrant Officer in the Navy Reserve. He served for ten years on active duty with deployments that included Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I am a very proud Navy wife! What I love about him is that he works very, very hard for this country,” she admired. “I see him come home around 5pm after starting at 4am every weekday. We watch the news and have dinner together, and most nights he goes right back to work in his office until nine or ten. We still do have great quality time and really enjoy each other.”
Aimee and Jeff’s worlds now revolve around their ‘canine kids,’ Lucy and Cyrus; both Weimaraners and both rescues dogs. “If you've ever been around a Weim, you know their entertainment value and their boundless energy,” said Aimee. “Dogs make a house a home. Someone recently asked for advice on what to do if they had to leave their Weims alone for the day--which I do not recommend!” Aimee said laughingly. I said ‘imagine the worst possible things they could do to your house and prepare accordingly.’”
Aimee’s heart also extends to one of her favorite aspects of Rancho Santa Fe, The Country Friends. “The charity gives us a chance to get very serious indeed, and hear from some of the benefactors themselves,” explained Aimee. “The other great part of The Country Friends is the friends you make and keep. These are good souls who give their time to these causes, and spending time with them happens to be a blessed by-product. I often join Sophia Alsadek, Carrie Woodland, Sarah Sleeper (who does incredible work for Team Hoyt!), Kim Smart and TCF's Yvette LeTourneau at various charitable luncheons. They are already very busy, accomplished ladies but they are always ready to do more!”
Aimee is a treasured member of our community. Her passion for knowledge, quality and style is reflected in her sensational hats and jewelry as well as the company she keeps. Her profound skillset is awe-inspiring and we are looking forward to the next event at which her charm and exquisite designs will be enjoyed.
For more info check out http://www.aimeesboutique.net/ www.countryfriends.com and http://www.sihightea.org/
TAGS: Aimee Meals, Aimee Fuller