This summer we are thrilled to feature some local moms who are thinking outside the box and making a difference in our community through the businesses they own, organizations they are involved with, and work they do. Check out the rest of the series and read profiles from previous years here.
Bridget Neely works at Nationwide, is a business owner, and mom to 3. She is very active in the community, serving on the board of Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, immediate past secretary of The Links, Incorporated, and on the Political Action Committee of the NAACP, among others.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I am married with three sons (ages 28, 23, and 19). Both my husband and I are natives of Illinois and moved to Iowa in 1994. My career has been grounded in the insurance industry for 27 years. My husband is a former IT professional turned entrepreneur. I currently work full-time at Nationwide while he manages our paint & sip studio, Bottle & Bottega Des Moines. We have been franchise owners of B&B DSM since 2017. James and I enjoy interacting with customers at Bottle & Bottega and seeing the fun they have during our art parties.
Last year, we became empty-nesters, which was a tough adjustment. With the onset of COVID-19, our two younger sons moved back home from their respective colleges. However, we will become empty nesters once again in August when school resumes.
What do you consider the biggest challenge of motherhood to be? Biggest joy?
For me, the biggest challenge of motherhood is not enabling my children but giving them the tools, resources, and trusting their abilities to manage their own lives. As a mother of grown children, I have struggled to get out of their way and let them be who they are.
My biggest joy about motherhood is watching my sons grow into men as they experience the different stages of life.
My husband, James, actually discovered Bottle & Bottega when we decided to pursue the world of small business ownership. He took an opportunity for early retirement from his former employer. He completed the research and vetting process for us. Once we visited a B&B and participated in an Art Party, we fell in love with the idea of bringing it to Iowa. Even though there were other paint & sip businesses in this market, the B&B experience was so different. We felt it aligned best with our personalities to give every guest a memorable experience that would make them want to return.
Being business owners is definitely something we wanted to do for a while. We finally had the opportunity to pursue a dream.
What’s the best part about your job?
In addition to being co-owner of Bottle & Bottega Des Moines, I have a full-time job at a local insurance company as a business consultant. The best part about both roles is they allow me to use both sides of my brain – the scientific and the creative. They also drive me to be greater and to maximize opportunities.
What advice do you have for moms who want to chase a dream?
My advice is to “step out on faith” and trust that faith. This is not cliche. It is absolutely real. Being a business owner is tough and sometimes unforgiving work. It beats you up. When the rewards come, it is the best feeling of accomplishment.
How are you involved in the community?
I serve on a few boards in the community (The Willkie House, Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, and Chrysalis Foundation). I also serve in local chapters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in which I am the chapter president, local chapter president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and in the NAACP as a member of the Political Action Committee.
I also volunteer with organizations like Hip Hope, Inc., as a presenter for their Many Shades of Colour Conference, I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa, Iowa Juneteenth Observance, One Economy Small Business Work Group, and the Food Bank of Iowa. I have served on the School Improvement Advisory Committee for Johnston Community School District, and on the Program Committee and Steering Committee for the Women Lead Change Central Iowa Conference. Recently, I have participated in social justice marches, rallies, and prayer vigils supporting the Black community in our pursuit to eliminate systemic racism and discriminatory practices in Iowa.
Around Des Moines
Favorite spot to go for a drink
How/where do you relax?
I enjoy sitting on my deck in the early mornings and listening to the birds sing and watching them between the trees in our backyard. For some reason, it is such a soothing experience.
What’s your favorite book, show, or podcast?
My favorite book is “The Pursuit: 14 Ways in 14 Days to Passionately Seek God’s Purpose for Your Life” by T.C. Stallings
What are 3 words to describe you?
Spiritual, Advocate, Loving
If your life had a hashtag, what would it be?
Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.