By Sadie Maeda
Welcome to the latest installment of MAHFIA.tv’s interview segment, MAHFIA Spotlight! We interview different women in the industry, from athletes to photographers/filmers, industry leaders, influencers, and other rad people supporting women in action sports. More than just a celebration of their accomplishments, we take a deeper look into how they got to where they are, including life changing moments, fears, and inspiration. By shedding light on women who are pushing our community forward, we hope to inspire and empower you all to get out there and go for it.
Most of us would never think to work with our family members but Ashley Ciaglia isn’t most people and with a legacy like the Ciaglia family, you wouldn’t dream of working anywhere else. Her father, Joe Ciaglia, founded California Skateparks in 1998 and has grown to be one of the most recognized skatepark design and build firms in the world. With 350 skateparks around the world and a cliental that includes pro skaters and celebrities, they have built quite the resume. In addition to providing design and construction service, they also build skate-able art and ornamental metal fabrication.
Serving as the marketing manager, Ashley’s been professionally involved with the company since college, starting as an intern and working her way up. Putting on events with Vans and Street League, traveling around the world, and interacting with the likes of Miley Cyrus and Tony Hawk, are all just a normal part of Ashley’s life.
We got a chance to talk to this California skatepark legacy about her life, the industry and of course, her converted VW bus.
What jobs have you worked in your life? How did you get into this industry?
I grew up playing soccer and was lucky enough to have my parents support me, so I wasn’t forced to have one. I was a hostess at an upper scale restaurant in San Diego for a minute, but it was terrible – people are really serious about where they like to sit apparently, haha.
I needed an internship in college as a requirement for my degree in Marketing and started working for my father’s company, California Skateparks…and never left.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I’m just happy when the kids are psyched on the skate parks we build. It’s nice when people appreciate the work. I’m also proud to help my dad out. He works his ass off, and it’s gratifying knowing I contribute.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Definitely the event projects we do with Vans Park Series and Street League Skateboarding. Being able to watch the projects go from design to completion in such a short amount of time is always exciting – and the travel isn’t too bad either.
Who is someone you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
That’s a tough one. It’s pretty unreal, and we are super fortunate, to have worked with a substantial amount of professional skaters and even some A-list celebrities. I think it would be interesting to see what Evan Smith would do with designing a skate park.
What’s something you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Cliché I know, but true for me.
If you could skate/snow/surf/hang with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Patti Smith – I imagine she would have some really interesting stories and I would love to just talk to her about life.
Favorite place you’ve been to? #1 place you want to go to but haven’t yet?
Italy, but my choice may be slightly biased because I’m Italian. So, Japan!
Who or what has influenced or inspired your career the most?
I would say the skateboarders. Their passion is contagious.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I’m terrified of clowns and can eat my body weight in homemade vegan cookie dough.
Describe the last time you laughed so hard you cried? What happened?
Eating crap snowboarding. I was halfway through a run and approaching a spot where the chairlifts were overhead, so, trying to be the cool snowboarder that I am, I sped up – only to catch my edge and fall on my back, sliding down the mountain head first for a solid 5 minutes. Since it was so steep, I couldn’t stop, turn or pick myself up, so I’m basically just sliding down the mountain staring up at all the people on the chairlifts as they looked down and witnessed the embarrassment. Hilarious!
The last time you cried?
I know this might sound pathetic to some people, but the last time I was on Facebook. I follow a lot of vegan and pro-activist pages, so anything depicting animals suffering really gets to me.
The last time you were scared?
Surfing scares me. I’m terrified of sharks.
What do you do or tell yourself when you are feeling scared or intimidated?
You can’t let fear dictate your life.
Where did you grow up? Do you think there are any characteristics about your hometown or household that shaped who you are?
I’m from Upland, California, or as many refer to it now, the Inland Empire. My Dad has always held my brother and I to high standards, but I believe soccer has had the most positive impact on the person I am today.
Can you tell us about a pivotal (or “a-ha”) moment in your life? ie) a life changing experience?
After meeting with successful people at “big-name” companies, I realized there’s really nothing to be intimated about. I think we all over-think a lot of situations, when in reality they’re a lot different than what we’d imagined.
Tell us about a time where you felt super humbled.
I try to humble myself everyday. I like to meditate in the mornings and reflect on all the things I’m grateful for…along with saying positive affirmations before I begin my day.
If you couldn’t do your current job, what would your dream job be?
Owning a vegan bakery/coffee shop sounds pretty dreamy.
What is something you would like to see change in your industry?
That’s a hard question for me to answer. While we do work a lot within the skateboard industry, we work even more so with city municipalities, so that’s not really for me to say. I do love seeing more women progressing the industry, more girls skateboarding and filling higher positions within the industry.
What is something you would like to see change in the world?
Heavy question…one thing I would like the world to adopt is a plant-based or vegan diet.
Tell us something you are working right now (can be, a hobby, life skill, etc).
I recently bought and converted a rather crusty 71 VW Bus into a photo booth bus for a side gig. It’s called the Traveling Photo Bus. I love it! It’s so fun to drive, and I have already booked a handful of events for the year!
One piece of advice for a girl who is looking to pursue a career similar to yours?
I would advise you to immerse yourself in the industry. Go and talk to as many people as you can, ask questions and most of all – listen.