Ashley Phelps runs the show at Sneak Joint, a lifestyle-centric beach bar just off the boardwalk in Mission Beach owned and operated by Elevated Endeavors, LLC.
Phelps organizes behind-the-scenes matters of social media and event planning by day. When the sun sets, Phelps works the room, ensuring party operations run smoothly. But it’s not all cocktails and sweet talk for this hands-on marketing director. Phelps is a former Miss California USA contestant who graduated from the University of San Diego summa cum laude. In other words, she is one smart cookie.
A girly girl with a Chanel fashion sense, Phelps can also play dirty; she drives a Dodge Ram 1500 and runs over 25 miles per week with a marathon training club. We finally caught up to the beach beauty for the skinny on her career goals, role models, charity work, and how she’d spend her perfect San Diego weekend.
Get to know Ashley Phelps in this week’s Style Profile.
Q: Current profession? Walk us through a typical day at work.
A: I am the Director of Marketing and Events for Elevated Endeavors, an entertainment and hospitality operations firm based in San Diego. Sneak Joint in Mission Beach has become a nationally recognized brand focused on food, drink and lifestyle.
I have learned that entertainment and hospitality is a very challenging industry and any business with the primary focus on customer experience requires passion, consistent optimization and a disciplined work ethic. I may have meetings all day with staff at Sneak Joint or meetings with business clients planning their special events. The following day might require coordinating and facilitating the backend operations required to support our marketing and branding initiatives, e.g., social media, website development, vendor relations and public relations.
The evenings at Sneak Joint are my favorite because I get to interact with our customers and evaluate the business from a customer experience perspective. Entertaining friends makes me the happiest.
Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
A: I love what I do in event planning and coordination, as well as the hospitality service industry, so I’d like to continue in this career field. It’s a fast paced business that’s 7,365…it never stops, which keeps things interesting. I am fortunate to have a career that gives me creative freedom to express and execute on my ideas. I also love working with other people in the industry and learning something new from everyone I come across. Ultimately, one day I’d like to have my own special event planning company.
Q: Give us an overview of your background in beauty pageants. Most exciting titles?
A: My pageant career began in the Little Miss Hawaiian Tropic Pageant, in which I competed, and won, my local pageant at the ripe age of 9. After a couple attempts, I finally took the National Title at the age of 11 for Young Miss Hawaiian Tropic. At the time, this was a very exciting title for me!
However, Miss Nevada Teen USA is by far the most exciting title I have won! I spent my year of reign year doing appearances, parades, interviews, charity events, traveling, and most importantly, preparing to compete at the Miss Teen USA pageant! Miss Teen USA was a two-week long event, ending with the nationally televised Finals on NBC. I was 15-years-old during the year of my reign, and the youngest girl at Miss Teen USA. Sadly, I didn’t make top 15 but made some great friendships.
My most recent pageant experience was competing in Miss California USA 2008 and 2009. The first year I competed I made Top 10, and in 2009 I was 2nd Runner Up. Both years had around 90 girls competing, so to even make Top 15 Semifinalists is a great accomplishment. I’ve taken a couple years off since, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be back this year!
Q: Most important female role model in your life
A: That’s easy, my Mother. When I “grow up”, I hope I can be half the woman she is. She has set a great example for me as a mother, wife, friend, and person in general. My mother has always supported the decisions I make, whether or not she agrees with them, yet always gives her honest opinion, which makes me think twice about my decisions. She’s been there to pick me up through all the trials and tribulations of life, and always knows how to make me feel better, even from hundreds of miles away.
Q: In what ways do you give back to the San Diego community?
A: For the past two years I have been a volunteer for Words Alive, a non-profit reading advocacy organization in their Early Literacy Intervention (ELI) program. I have a designated State Funded Pre-School where I conduct read-aloud sessions and enrichment activities relating to the book. The pre-schoolers in this program come from economically disadvantaged families and are rarely read to at home. The goal is to help the students develop cognitive and verbal skills and most importantly, inspire a love of reading and books.
Volunteering for Words Alive has been a very rewarding experience, as I look forward to seeing the students as much as they look forward to seeing me. I have been so fortunate to have such a great life, and it has always been important for me to give back to the community in any way I can.
Q: How do you approach the art of getting dressed?
A: You’re right, getting dressed is an art, and my floor sometimes becomes the canvas, painted with all the clothes I tried on and decided not to wear. Kidding! Kind of. I always do my makeup first, then check the weather for the day. Weather is always so unpredictable here, I like to be prepared. I hate when I’m in jeans and it ends up being 80 degrees out and everyone at the beach is in swimwear. After I check the weather, I pick out an outfit accordingly, e.g. sunny and warm, I’ll do a casual dress and wedges. Overcast and cooler, I’ll do jeans and a loose sweater with flats or heels.
Q: From head to toe, what do you feel best wearing?
A: I always like to dress for the occasion, so sometimes this means multiple outfits in a day. My two “go-to” outfits are short-casual dresses, the shorter the better, and jeans with a flowy cropped shirt or sweater. Both outfits can be dressed up with heels (which are always appropriate in my opinion), or dressed down with sandals, flats,or flip-flops. I’m loving colored denim, and have three pairs of AG Jeans (Adriano Goldschmied) in different colors. They are the most comfortable jeans I’ve ever had, and fit like a glove on the first day.
I also feel really great wearing my black leather jacket with almost everything! It makes any outfit look “cool”. Other things I borderline obsess about: Anything and everything with bows (especially jewelry and shoes), nude shoes (I have 12 pairs of heels, flats, and sandals!), neon tops, and BIG earings.
As for hair, although I love keeping my hair long, it’s just too long to wear it down all the time, or really ever. More often than not, my hair ends up on top of my head in a bun, especially during the week.
Q: Favorite San Diego boutiques?
A: Brandy Melville is Pacific Beach’s new best kept secret for shopping. The style is simple, casual, and cute, without being overly trendy, and surprisingly affordable. A lot of the tops and sweaters are one size fits most, which makes it easy, and it works because most pieces are made with a loose fit that drapes nicely and still flatters.
For summertime, SunSplash is my favorite swimwear boutique. I am picky with my swimsuit brands, as only a few fit right. I love Vix, and SunSplash has a great selection of Vix; they actually have a great mix of both high end designer swimwear and more affordable brands.
I can’t talk about go-to boutiques without mentioning Lululemon. For as much as I run (and occasionally yoga), it’s obviously necessary for me to frequent Lulu at least once a month! The unique thing about Lululemon is that they don’t make anything twice, so when they sell out of something, it’s gone. And they put out new items and colors every week. They’re smart, it creates a sense of urgency and demand among the Lululemon aficionados, like myself.
Q: Favorite high-fashion designers of all time?
A: Chanel. I think it’s great when a designer can branch out into every aspect of fashion besides just clothing. Beyond fashion, Chanel has successful lines of handbags, makeup, fragrance, sunglasses, watches, and other accessories. Personally, I’ve been wearing the Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel fragrance since high school. I have also stepped on and lost a few pairs of Chanel sunglasses -- may they rest in peace. I am coveting a Chanel bag in, of course, nude!
Q: How do you stay in such great shape? What is your fitness routine?
A: First of all, thank you! It doesn’t come naturally, and is definitely something I have to work at, especially considering the Sneak Joint kitchen is always having me taste something!
Running is a huge part of my fitness routine as of late. I ran my first half-marathon in December and another last month. I joined Vavi Run Club in January where we’re training for the La Jolla ½ Marathon this month and the SD Rock n’ Roll in June. To summarize, I run 4 days, 25-32 miles per week. Additionally, I do circuit and strength training 2x per week with my trainer Rhonda at BeFitLifestyle in Mission Hills. I box with Nick, my boxing trainer at TapOut once a week. If I can I like to take a yoga class on Sunday at Urban Yogi downtown.
I always get my workouts done early in the morning. If I push it off for the end of the day, I’ll talk myself out of it all day. I have to get it done and out of the way, or my day just won’t feel right.
Q: What do you carry in your purse?
A: Are you ready for this? First of all, I have an entire mini-bag dedicated to lip glosses and lipsticks inside my purse. Pens, business cards, a perfume rollerball, gum, hand sanitizer, a clutch (always be prepared!), band aids, and a Tide to-go pen…I don’t even know why I bother wearing white when I go work at Sneak Joint, or go out to eat, because I undoubtedly will come home with a stain.
Q: No matter how busy you are, you always make time for ____.
A: Family and friends. Everyone often has conflicting schedules, and we have to make an effort to spend time together. My friends and family are my rock, my biggest fans, and people I feel most like myself with. Whether we’re shopping, grabbing coffee, crafting, or just watching bad reality TV, it's always memorable.
Q: Favorite meal at a San Diego restaurant?
A: It’s hard to say because my favorite this week will probably be different next week. I’m a huge foodie and love going out to eat. My rule is I always want to go somewhere new, and that’s always been possible because there are so many great options in San Diego now, and new places are opening up all the time.
Along with my love of food comes a love of sweets…I’m pretty sure my whole mouth is a sweet tooth. Recently, I’ve been frequenting Babycakes in Hillcrest. So if I have to pick a favorite meal, it would be Babycakes’ Black Bottom Cupcake and Flourless Chocolate Cake, both are out-of-control good.
Q: Your perfect San Diego weekend?
A: After a long work week, I like to keep it low key. Having dinner with a friend or a dinner meeting at Sneak Joint is always a good bet. I have to wake up at 6am on Saturdays to run, so I usually bring it in early on Friday nights to watch a movie, always a documentary, to learn about something new and interesting.
Saturdays start bright and early with Vavi Run Club, a long run usually between 8-14 miles. After running, I go to Whole Foods and hit up the massive salad bar area to make a lunch for later. After I re-group a little, shower, and get ready, I get in some day-time solo activities and errands. Well groomed paws are important to me, so a weekly manicure and bi-weekly pedicure is essential. I would also indulge in some shopping on a perfect Saturday. As for Saturday night, If we don’t have an event, I love to go out to dinner. I always want to try new things, so I like to eat somewhere I haven’t been before.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. There’s just something about it…no matter what I’m doing, it’s always a Funday for me! On a perfect Sunday, I would start it with yoga in the morning, then head over to Sneak Joint to Sunday Funday! My friends will meet me over there and we’ll hang all day, or maybe bounce around the beach a little as well. Sunday is also the perfect day for outdoor activities: beach cruising, barbeques, volleyball, or laying out.
Q: Three unique things we don’t know about you?
A: I graduated from University of San Diego summa cum laude, with a 3.9. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sitting at my desk studying all weekend, it was actually quite the opposite. I have remarkable talents of procrastination and cramming, but school has always come pretty easy to me.
I drive a pick-up truck; specifically, a Dodge Ram 1500, and I love it! I have been driving a Dodge Ram since I got my license. Well, this is actually the 2nd one, the 1st one I totaled 3 weeks after I got my license.
When I was in 10, I moved to LA with my mom so I could pursue an acting and modeling career. I was signed to Ford Models for print work and also signed with an acting and talent agent. Over 2 years of countless auditions and callbacks, I booked a couple of national commercials and multiple print campaigns including Target, K-Mart, and a German catalog. I was homeschooled during this time, so when 8th grade came I wanted to go back to school. That’s where my child acting/modeling career ended.
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