An entrepreneur from Greater Manchester who started the UK’s first architecture franchise aimed at marginalised professionals, including women, has been highly commended at the inaugural English Women’s Awards – North.

Lisa Raynes, founder of Pride Road Architects, was runner-up in the Creative Industries Leader of the Year category. She was pipped to the post by former Dragons’ Den contestant Laura Bartlett at the event, which was held on Monday March 19 at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel. However, organisers felt her commitment to championing diversity in the workplace was worthy of the ‘Highly Commended’ status.

Lisa said:

“It was an absolute honour to be nominated alongside some truly inspirational women, including our category winner Laura Bartlett.

“The energy at the event was amazing; it was packed with women who have not only achieved great things personally and professionally, but who love watching other women succeed.”

Lisa was nominated for the award following the success of her business, Pride Road Architects. Lisa went from a sole practitioner to a franchise owner after realising women – especially mothers – were being forced out of the industry due to employers’ outdated approach to flexible working.

She knew if she could run her own successful practice so too could other women, and Pride Road was born. The franchise is open to anyone who feels marginalised in the workplace.

“It took a long time to get Pride Road ready for franchise, but after securing my first two franchisees and watching their businesses, and confidence, soar, it has all been worth it.

“To be highly commended at The English Women’s Awards – North has been the cherry on top of an already amazing year.”

The awards were organised by Creative Oceanic.

Irfan Younis, CEO of Creative Oceanic, said:

“We would like to congratulate all of our nominees and winners of the inaugural English Women’s Awards – North who have achieved so much in their lives. The ceremony provided the opportunity for women to showcase their hard work and we are looking forward to growing the awards in the future.”

To find out more about the franchises available from Pride Rd, or the services offered, go to