Lisa Raynes, Founder of Pride Road and Pride Road Franchise
Empowering female architects to run their own practice that works flexibly around their families
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water…” Ten years ago, I was made redundant for the second time whilst on maternity leave. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t get a job so, out of necessity, I set up my own architectural practice.
I was starting from a position of strength – having just been named the ‘Queen of Construction’ by ‘The Independent’. I was also the chair of Women in Property North West.
I decided to offer architectural services to homeowners – doing single and two-storey extensions. By concentrating on that sector and doing it well, I built a successful business. Systemising processes empowered me to launch my own franchise in 2016. Pride Road enables other female architects to return to the profession after having children. We’re about to expand into the South West and I’m actively looking for more franchisees.
Raising my profile has been key to my success. Having chaired RIBA’s Solo Practitioners Group, I then became a national council member from 2015 to 2018. Just 17.5 percent of RIBA members are female. When you get to senior positions, the numbers of women drop off drastically, so my biggest motivation is wanting to help make the industry better for working women and parents.
With encouragement from my builders’ merchant dad and builder grandad, I became the first female in my fourth-generation family of Russian Jews to go to university. I earned my professional qualifications at Manchester’s best design-led practice, but I lost confidence in myself – questioning whether a woman who wanted to get married and start a family should be working such long hours.
I went on to have three children and continued working in-between, but the industry is fickle. Architects are vulnerable to being axed – even those of us who are breadwinners. Setting up by myself has helped me to regain control, to empower other female architects and to be the mother I wanted to be. I remarried in 2017 and I have been supporting my transgender son through his journey. We’ve been photographed in ‘Good Housekeeping’ together and I couldn’t be prouder!