Beyond Barriers Podcast: Developing An Entrepreneurial Mindset with Lauren Sweeney

You hear it all the time from super successful people, long before they were running multimillion-dollar companies, they were strengthening their entrepreneurial muscle by selling lemonade on the corner, inventing the next “big thing” in their garage or helping their parents or grandparents run the “mom and pop” family business after school. It seems that for most successful people, whether they are working for a company or running their own company, the entrepreneurial mindset sets them apart from the rest.

In this episode, Lauren Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Dotted Line, shares her own story of growing up in a family of small business owners and how developing her entrepreneurial mindset helped her succeed in her corporate career and ultimately gave her the courage to follow her passion and start her own business.

Listen to the full episode here.

Dotted Line Q1 Updates

To our Dotted Line clients and friends,

As spring peeks around the corner, our Dotted Line team is looking forward to a new season, warm sunshine, and the next chapter. With the changing season, it’s often helpful to reflect, and as I consider the communications we’ve exchanged over the years, I see a collection of announcements, new work, ideas, and thoughts. On their own, I hope they provide value to you as an individual or your business.

However, looking at the complete collection, compiled together, it starts to become something bigger. Strung together, it starts to tell the story of Dotted Line. This season storytelling is top of mind as we think about you, our clients. We believe every company can have a tremendous impact on the world, whether you are trying to impact those on your payroll or become a rock star brand in your field. We believe the most successful organizations intentionally define their story and always try to refine their impact.

As we build in 2021, I am challenging myself and our team to ask ourselves…how are we creating more significant, more exciting, and more intense stories with you, our clients?

In today’s competitive world, we know each of us can’t just have a great product, good people, exceptional service, and success. Refining our storytelling approach is at the crux of brand power. Matthew Hussey says, “we often get obsessed with saying something that is new instead of focusing on saying something in a new way.” I hope this brings a fresh perspective and renewed focus as you continue to evolve your organization’s story.

With our feelings of hopefulness and a renewed sense of energy, we hope you will join us.


Marketing Agencies Make West End Moves

Dotted Line has set up shop in Henrico County’s Forest Office Park, one of several local marketing agencies to recently migrate to Richmond’s West End. CEO Lauren Sweeney spoke with Richmond BizSense about how the 6,600-square-foot facility (which we share with Spinnaker Consulting Group) perfectly fits the needs of our fast-growing company. 

Continue to Richmond BizSense

Dotted Line Named A Top Marketing Firm in Richmond

Each year, Richmond Biz Sense presents a list of top advertising, marketing and public relations firms in the Richmond area.  This year, Dotted Line Collaborations was added to the list as a top marketing firm in Richmond.

Find full list here.

Ad Rewind: memorable advertising

Richmond BizSense
Ad Rewind: memorable advertising and marketing moments
By Jonathan Spiers

From wind sprinting and yoga posing chia bars, to slow drawing sloths and “awful” Cobb Technologies coworkers, Richmond’s advertising industry gave us lots to look at in 2017.

It was a year that saw CarMax go “all in” for a used car in a parody ad, power-walking pickers turning into junkyard mechanics, and a new Richmond agency giving its first crack at a campaign for its one, and so far only, client: Google.

Here are our picks for this year’s standout locally produced ads, in no particular order, pulled from The Pitch and other BizSense coverage:


Featuring 3-D animation created in Cinema 4D and After Effects, the four 15-second videos for local health food company Health Warrior feature its protein and chia bars weightlifting, running a marathon and performing wind sprints and yoga poses. The videos were a collaboration between production studio Park Group and brand agency Work Labs.

Barber Martin’s campaign for Chesterfield Auto Parts included 15- and 30-second  TV and online video spotsfeaturing a mechanic speaking with someone else’s voice who’s revealed to be a young man or woman. The campaign targeted young pickers and females with television, digital, radio and outdoor advertising.


The ad giant’s latest campaign for longtime client Geico kicked off with this 30-second spot starring a sloth drawing pictures at an extremely slow pace, followed by a spokesman saying, “As long as sloths are slow, you can count on Geico saving folks money.” The campaign, called “Count On,” came on the heels of the final spot for Geico’s long-running “It’s What You Do” campaign.

Known for its ubiquitous radio ads, the local office equipment supplier worked with Studio Center to release its first pair of TV commercials, which feature the company’s employees and voiceovers by owner Freddy Cobb.

The Richmond ad scene’s newest kid on the block released a campaign for Google Chromebook – the agency’s first work for Google since launching in November.


While produced by China’s CCTV to promote the country’s One Belt, One Road trade initiative, it took Richmond-based filmmaker Sunny Zhao’s Dreams Factory to bring this 90-second spot to life. Zhao spent 10 days shooting in various countries along the trade route, directing and taking turns behind the camera. The video opened a two-day summit in Beijing and aired as the initiative’s first commercial on CCTV, China’s main state-run television broadcaster.


Playing on the 19th-century estate’s history as a gift to the city, the pro bono campaign’s posters advertised gift boxes from the fictional “Maymont Memory Company” containing Maymont-specific items and experiences, such as skipping rocks at the Japanese Garden koi pond and blades of grass on Maymont’s rolling hills. Billboard ads promoted such deals as “Free Vitamin D with every visit!” and “Get one grass-stained knee, get another for free!”

Barber Martin’s latest campaign for Virginia Lottery presented lottery scratch games as holiday gift ideas. Including two TV spots, two radio spots, a digital video, and outdoor, print and point-of-sale ads, the campaign involved video production work from MadBox and audio work from Red Amp Audio.


The used car retailer created a 90-second video to respond to a parody ad that went viral on YouTube. The parody ad, by California writer-director Max Lanman, offered to sell his girlfriend’s 1996 Honda Accord starting at $499. CarMax responded with its own video, produced by North Carolina-based agency McKinney, offering to buy the car and other items in the ad for $20,000. Lanman would take CarMax up on its offer, while CarMax’s video, starring McKinney creative director and Brandcenter alum David Sloan, rode the wave of exposure with more than 293,000 views.

Continue to Richmond BizSense.

Tory Burch Foundation Honors Dr. Brite’s Paris Sabo
Tory Burch Foundation Honors Dr. Brite’s Paris Sabo
By Rosemary Feitelberg

Tory Burch said she and her fellow jurors found the final decision to be excruciating since all 10 finalists were “insanely worthy” of winning.

Dr. Brite, a little-known natural and organic personal-care Irvine, Calif., company, is about to amp up its wattage as the winner of this year’s winner of the Tory Burch Foundation’s Fellowship Program.

Burch revealed the winner at a luncheon for the 10 finalists in the Tory Sport West 19th Street offices here on Thursday. What started as a pool of 800-plus contenders was first whittled down to 30 finalists and then 10 thanks to a public online vote. As the winner, Dr. Brite founder Paris Sabo walked away with a $100,000 business education grant.

Sabo’s fellow finalists included Anit Hora of Mullein & Sparrow, Kimberly Jung of Rumi Spice, Katalina Mayorga of El Camino Travel, Jennifer Saxton of Tot Squad, Allison Schickel of Brobe International, Anita Shepherd of Anita’s Yogurt, Lauren Sweeney of Dotted Line Collaborations, Eliza Whitman of FlyDog Yoga and Janel Young of Nava Pets.

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Biz Buzz: Henrico entrepreneur selected for a year-long Tory Burch Foundation fellowship
Biz Buzz: Henrico entrepreneur selected for a year-long Tory Burch Foundation fellowship
By Tammie Smith

Photo of Lauren Sweeney, CEO of Dotted Line
Lauren Sweeney

Lauren Sweeney, owner of Henrico County-based Dotted Line Collaborations marketing firm, is one of 10 women entrepreneurs from across the country selected for a yearlong Tory Burch Foundation fellowship.

The 10 winners will each receive a $10,000 education grant, three days of workshops at the headquarters of lifestyle brand Tory Burch in New York City, plus yearlong support and the chance to compete for a $100,000 investment grant.

The Tory Burch Foundation was created in 2009 by designer and businesswoman Tory Burch whose company Tory Burch LLC sells clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories and more.

Sweeney, 29, started Dotted Line Collaborations in 2013. She is a former employee of Capital One, where she worked on internal communications campaigns.

“I started Dotted Line because I saw that the advertising industry was changing. … Our business model is unique to the advertising industry, which is one of the reasons why I think we were selected,” Sweeney said.

“We have a staff of multidisciplinary marketing and advertising experts, and then we have a wide network of top agency talent across the U.S. that we tap into,” she said.

Sweeney travels to New York City this week for the first series of fellowship workshops.

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From Entrepreneur to Enterprise

Tory Burch Fellows Presentation Collage

The Challenge

Dotted Line Collaborations spends every waking hour helping clients achieve their business goals through creative marketing. But when we made the finals of the esteemed Tory Burch Foundation Fellowship, we had to practice what we preach. With only 24 days to gather more votes than the other finalists, our Dotted Line team needed its own campaign to raise awareness about the Fellowship and encourage as many friends, fans, and strangers alike to vote. And do it in a way that would make the Tory Burch Foundation take note of our nimble and creative team.

The Solution

The solution started with our core strength: collaboration. We knew that we needed to leverage the support of all our connections. With an overarching campaign idea of supporting women in business, we came up with easy and engaging ways to remind people to vote for us while raising awareness around female entrepreneurship. The campaign didn’t focus solely on DLC — we highlighted inspiring female leaders from the Richmond region to create mutually beneficial buzz around the Fellowship and its mission of empowering female business owners.

By the end of the three weeks, we had done an astounding amount of marketing, including 2 local press features, an event with over 80 attendees at Quirk Hotel, a shout out from the nationally recognized 3% Conference, and over 185 shares on Facebook. Our message reached over 5,000 people, drove 1,400 new visitors to our website, and led to over 3,000 votes in the competition.

Best of all, we won! As a Tory Burch Fellow, our CEO, Lauren Sweeney, won a year-long fellowship full of resources and education, a $10,000 grant, and a chance to pitch for $100,000 investment from the Foundation. All proof that creativity and collaboration can pay off in remarkable ways.

Walking the line to success

Randolph-Macon College
Connecting the Dots: Lauren Cox Sweeney ’10

Solving branding challenges is the name of the game for Dotted Line Collaborations, a Richmond-based boutique marketing firm run by Randolph-Macon College alum Lauren Sweeney. The 2010 graduate is one of 30 finalists for the Tory Burch Foundation Fellows program, which gives female business owners guidance and skills for further success.

Since founding Dotted Line Collaborations in 2013, Sweeney and her mostly female staff have “focused on changing the world of advertising.” Dotted Line Collaborations offers project-based marketing solutions that include branding, advertising, public relations and social media, Sweeney said.

The business and economics major also minored in studio art and art history, which she incorporated into Dotted Line Collaborations. Sweeney said her time at R-MC helped her become the successful business owner she is today.

“[Attending R-MC] allows you to try a lot of different things and have exposure to different things,” Sweeney said. “That mixed with the tight alumni group really set me up for success.”

Tory Burch, whose fashion empire has landed her on the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Influential Women several times, created her foundation in 2009 to support women entrepreneurs.

“It’s awesome that [Burch] feels so passionate about helping fellow women entrepreneurs,” Sweeney said. “A lot of things the foundation talks about we feel is very important.”

Voting for the top 10 finalists is open online until April 14. These 10 women will be part of a yearlong fellowship and have access to mentorship from C-Suite female executives, and spend time under Tory Burch’s guidance in New York.

The top 10 finalists will also receive a $10,000 education grant to further their business, and have the opportunity to pitch their business before Burch and a panel for a $100,000 grant investment.

“We’re very excited about this because we feel like Tory Burch would not just be investing in me and our company, but also in the Richmond community and the businesses we work with,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said she believes one reason she and Dotted Line Collaborations were selected is because they help other businesses in the community.

“We work hard to build our clients’ businesses and brands to make an impact in our community,” she continued.

Other finalists include business owners who also help their communities, whether by working with farmers to import saffron, or building a surveyor-engineer firm.

“They’re all doing really cool, impactful things so just to be considered among one of those women is amazing,” Sweeney said.