Be the Light with Neelie Carroll
Neelie Carroll joined Dotted Line in Richmond in late 2021 as the agency’s chief of staff, after spending several months as a Charleston-based virtual assistant for our CEO, Lauren Sweeney. A year later, she moved into a new assignment as a project manager dedicated to the agency’s Worksite Labs account. Her optimism and organizational mind are essential fixtures of the DLA team.
Not to be too literal, but I’m a wife, a dog mom, a sister and a daughter. I’m also a friend. And I feel like friendships the past couple of years have become super important – and I’d rather have two to three to four really, really good friends that are more like family, instead of just having tons of friends, period.
We lost my mother-in-law a year and a half ago. She had COVID-19, so it wasn’t really expected. And I literally couldn’t have gotten through it without my friends. I have a couple of close girlfriends in Charleston, and they were lifesavers – just there every time I called. They became really important to me – and then I ended up moving away. It was interesting that I was the one who chose to leave Charleston, because I never thought I would be the one to move away.
When we were there, I was trying to start my own business: a fully mobile coffee bus. I love coffee and I love food: I think they have a way of bringing people together. That’s how you get to know people. I feel like a lot of people get to know each other over drinks, but I’m for coffee or a good meal with somebody. That’s how my family bonded growing up. We always went out to dinner together, and we would just sit for hours and talk.
I managed a coffee shop in Charleston for a couple of years, and that’s probably my favorite job I’ve ever had. The coffee bus is still my dream – it would be amazing. It’s on hold for now, but who’s to say it’s not in the future?
While I was trying to get that business off the ground, I started with Dotted Line as Lauren’s assistant part-time, just to make some money. Then Lauren said, “I’m interested in hiring you full time. Would you be willing to move to Richmond?”
And so my now-husband, Travis, and I just started having a conversation, and he’s so beyond supportive with everything that I do. We owned a house there, but, other than that, we thought, why not? Let’s do something new, go on an adventure. We’d grown all that we could in Charleston. So I moved up here literally one week after we got married.
Those first couple of months, my friends were really great about reaching out and just checking in, and I made sure I connected with them and called my family on a regular basis. Travis and I are still kind of figuring it out, being in a new city and because he works from home. I have people here at the office, but he doesn’t have a social outlet, so I’m trying to get creative and figure out what that looks like.
Through Dotted Line, I try to be very vulnerable and open and kind and see what relationships I can build here. My desk neighbors, Casey and Claire, are amazing. They’ve been a really good support system, and we’ve hung out a couple of times outside of work and gotten to know each other. We all work very hard, but I think it’s important to have laughter and not take work too seriously. I think that working really hard can coexist with having a good time.
I’m here to learn and grow, especially being in my new role.
I was DLA’s chief of staff for a while, then I was ready to take the next step. The project manager role was open, and all of the skills are the same, but it’s a totally different dynamic since it’s on the client side of things. I’m making sure all the Worksite Labs projects are getting through the system, making sure Creative Team has everything they need from Account Team.
I’m really looking forward to being more a part of the entire Dotted Line team. Everyone’s already on my team, of course, but as chief of staff I didn’t get to work as much with everybody one-on-one. So I’m really looking forward to that. I like working with others and bouncing ideas off each other. It’s so cool when you see how everybody’s brain works differently.
I also feel like life can be really, really heavy, so I want to use this role as more of an opportunity to be a light to others and to be kind, no matter how difficult life gets. I think people forget to do that. It’s really easy to project onto others what you’re going through, and it has nothing to do with them, but it can ruin their day.
I’m not saying to be fake, but it’s important to just be kind. I think it’s very simple. We all have so much more in common than we think.