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Lynne Franks

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Lynne Franks
Picture of Lynne Franks
Franks in 2007
Born (1948-04-16) 16 April 1948 (age 76)
London, England
Known forFounded Lynne Franks PR,
Campaigner on Women's Issues,
Founder of SEED
RelativesJosh Howie (son)

Lynne Joanne Franks[1] OBE (born 16 April 1948) is a communications strategist and writer. She founded a public relations consultancy in the early 1970s.

Early life[edit]

Franks was born and raised in North London in 1948. The daughter of a Jewish butcher, Franks attended Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate,[2] leaving at the age of 16. She completed a shorthand typing course at Pitman's College and was a regular dancer on the popular music TV programme Ready Steady Go![3] Franks initially worked in various secretarial jobs before taking a journalistic role at Petticoat, working under Eve Pollard and alongside Janet Street-Porter.[4] Whilst assigned to write and edit the Freemans in-house publications, she met Paul Howie, an Australian fashion buyer and designer, whom she later married.[5]

Lynne Franks PR[edit]

Following a brief period as a PR assistant, at the encouragement of the fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, Franks started her own PR agency at the age of 21. Her first clients included Hamnett's own fashion business, Tuttabankem,[6] and Wendy Dagworthy.[7] Working initially from her home, the new agency then moved into increasing larger premises in the Covent Garden area of London.[8]

In the summer of 1974, Franks supported her husband in setting up Howie, a menswear store on Fulham Road.[9]

In 1979, Franks's PR agency was commissioned by the Murjani Corporation to launch Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, one of the first designer jeans to be launched in the UK. Franks used this relationship in 1984 to help persuade Murjani to sponsor a large fashion tent outside the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington.[10] This helped to grow the then fledgling London Fashion Week.[11][12]

Over the next few years, Lynne Franks PR worked with many high street brands including Harvey Nichols, Tommy Hilfiger, Brylcreem, Raleigh Bicycles and Swatch.[13][14] Her agency also represented Katharine Hamnett, Jasper Conran, and Jean-Paul Gaultier; figures from entertainment such as Annie Lennox, Lenny Henry and Ruby Wax,[2][15] and worked briefly with the Labour Party in 1986, helping to promote Neil Kinnock ahead of the 1987 general election.[16] As the agency grew, LFPR attracted non-fashion brands and a food and drink division was added.[citation needed]

In 1985, Franks helped to initiate Fashion Cares,[17] a fundraising series of events which have since gone on to raise more than $10 million for HIV/Aids.[18] In the same year, she helped in the promotion of Live Aid[19] and worked with Bob Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith to create Fashion Aid[20] which raised $300,000 in aid of victims of famine in Africa.[21]

Franks's agency worked with John Elkington to promote Green Consumer Week in 1988.[2][22] Franks attended the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in 1984.[23]

It has been claimed by Franks that the character Edina Monsoon in the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, created by Jennifer Saunders, a long-time friend of Franks, was intended to be a satirised version of Franks during this period.[7][24][25][26] The claim has been denied by Saunders.[27]

Later work[edit]

In October 1993, it was announced that she was stepping down as chairman of her company[28][29][30] and would concentrate on broadcasting.[31]

In July 1995, Franks chaired a consortium[32] that launched Viva! 963, Britain's first radio station for women, with Franks herself hosting a twice-weekly interview show entitled Frankly Speaking.[33]

In order to boost awareness of the upcoming Fourth UN World Conference on Women, which Franks was to attend, she created What Women Want, a two-day festival of seminars, workshops and music at the Royal Festival Hall in London.[34] Held over the bank holiday weekend in August 1995, the event attracted almost 10,000 visitors, with The Big Issue devoting an entire edition to the event and the surrounding issues.[35] The highlight of the festival was a concert on the final night hosted by the comedian Jo Brand, and featuring performances from Sinéad O'Connor, The Pretenders, Sarah Jane Morris and Zap Mama.[36][37]

In 1997, Franks published her autobiography, Absolutely Now!: A Futurist's Journey to Her Inner Truth,[38] which made the Los Angeles Times best-seller list.[39] The book chronicles Franks' emotional and spiritual journey since leaving the world of PR, interspersing her spiritual experiences at locations such as the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, the Esalen Institute in California and the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in Rajasthan, India, with her ideas on feminism, environmental issues and ethical business practices.

Following the book's publication, Franks moved to California, and formed GlobalFusion, a cause-related marketing agency, working to promote environmentally-friendly fashion and cosmetic brands[40] and helping to launch The Big Issue in Los Angeles.[41] She also worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation on promoting micro-finance initiatives through their 'Knitting Together Nations' project, helping women refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina[42] and with Bibi Russell on her 'Fashion for Development' program in Bangladesh.[43][44] Lynne has more recently set up her SEED Store in Wincanton and become a brand ambassador for MotherSage.


Whilst in California, Franks developed the idea of SEED, an acronym for Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics, as a model for using principles of femininity, sustainability and social responsibility in business.[citation needed] In 2000, Franks published The SEED Handbook: The Feminine Way to Create Business,[45][46] and it has since gone on to sell more than 50,000 copies in the UK and US.[15]

Franks has since published two more books. In 2004, she published Grow: The Modern Woman's Handbook.[47] This was followed in 2007 by Bloom: A Woman's Journal for Inspired Living,[48] an accompaniment to a set of Affirmation Cards released previously.[49]

In collaboration with Tribal Education, Franks developed the SEED Women into Enterprise Programme, a blended learning course for self-employment. Aimed particularly at women from disadvantaged communities around the UK,[50] the programme has been delivered through local government agencies, training companies and charities—including Croydon Enterprise, A4e and The Prince's Trust[51]—as well as to inmates at Eastwood Park[52] and Styal prisons.[53]

Local SEED Circles have started up in many areas to provide members with opportunities to network with like-minded business owners,[54] whilst accredited SEED Coaches provide mentoring to businesswomen starting out.[55] In 2009, she launched the SEED Community Site, a social networking website to connect women entrepreneurs around the world.[56]

She was a member of the advisory board for McDonald's in the UK, helping to initiate their Women's Leadership Development Programme.[57]

She has worked with Regus to create and develop the B.Hive network of women's business clubs,[58][59] launching the flagship Covent Garden location in September 2010,[60] followed by further B.Hive centres in Bristol and Manchester in spring 2011.[61]

V-Day campaign[edit]

Franks is currently the chair of V-Day UK, a charity created by Eve Ensler, that campaigns to end violence against women and girls. In March 2009, she organised a Women of Influence Lunch at the House of Lords, to draw attention to the campaign. The lunch was hosted by Baroness Valerie Amos and featured Sarah Brown as the guest speaker, with attendees including Glenys Kinnock, Oona King and Sandi Toksvig.[62]

In June 2009, she organised a breakfast at the House of Commons to host the Congolese Senator and activist, Eve Bazaiba. Attended by Eric Joyce MP (chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the Great Lakes Region of Africa), Baroness Trish Morris and Sam Roddick amongst many others, the event promoted action plans such as fundraising and advocacy strategies.[63]

The following November, Franks organised the Great Congo Demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall on the 100th anniversary of the then Archbishop of Canterbury's call for an end to the violence in the Congo.[64] Supported by the Archbishop,[65] and other religious leaders, politicians, activists and celebrities, and accompanied by group letters to the press,[66] the demonstration called for an end to the systemic sexual violence against women in the region. The event helped to boost the profile of the campaign, receiving significant press coverage[67] and was mentioned favourably during a debate in the House of Lords.[68]

Public appearances[edit]

Franks has appeared on shows such as This Week,[69] Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Loose Women.[70] She was also a guest on Newsnight in June 2010, discussing the expected cuts to public expenditure in the forthcoming UK budget with reference to Thatcher's economic policies in the 1980s.[71]

In November 2007, Franks was a contestant on the seventh series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, and contributed to the third series of Grumpy Old Women in the same year.[72] She was a member of the Bizchicks team of entrepreneurs who competed on the Eggheads quiz show in November 2008, to raise money for The Nema Foundation,[73] a charity running projects to relieve child poverty in Mozambique.[74]

In February 2009, she guested on the sixth series of the Channel 4 Programme, Come Dine with Me,[75] and on the BBC Two show, The Supersizers Eat..., the following June.[76]

Franks has made public speaking engagements, including at Oxford University in 2007 for International Women's Day,[77] and at Glastonbury Festival in the same year.[78] She delivered the 23rd HSBC Bank keynote lecture at Brunel University in November 2008,[79] was on the judging panel for several enterprise award bodies including the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards[80] and performed a stand-up comedy routine at ITV's London Studios for International Women's Day 2009.[81] She also continues to write a monthly column for Natural Health Magazine.[82]

In July 2011, Franks was awarded an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University in recognition of her career achievements in business and the media.[83]


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  2. ^ a b c The International Who's Who (2004), p. 561, Europa Publications, UK. ISBN 1-85743-217-7
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  9. ^ Fraser (1981) p. 202.
  10. ^ O'Byrne (2009) p. 127.
  11. ^ Alexander, Hilary. "London Fashion Week celebrates its 25th anniversary", The Daily Telegraph, UK, 15 February 2009
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  13. ^ Cook, Emma, "Life without Lynne Franks", The Independent, UK, 15 September 1997
  14. ^ Turner, Janice. "Sweetie, Darling, You're a Goddess", The Times, London (UK), 6 March 2004, p. 12.
  15. ^ a b Dahle, Cheryl. "How to Make your Mark", Fast Company Magazine, (US), 30 November 2000 (Issue 41)
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  18. ^ ."http://www.fashioncares.com" Archived 30 July 2012 at archive.today Retrieved 26 May 2010
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  20. ^ O'Byrne (2009) p. 138.
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  33. ^ Davidson, Andrew. "That Woman", The Independent, London, 24 June 1995. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  34. ^ Cooper, Tim. "Sex, Nuns and Rock at Lynne's Festival", The Evening Standard, London, 25 August 1995, p. 21.
  35. ^ The Big Issue, Edition No. 144, 21–27 August 1995
  36. ^ Milton, Catherine. "UN World Conference on Women", The Times, London, 23 August 1995, p. 1.
  37. ^ Cornwell, Jane. "Festival: What Women Want", The Independent, London, 29 August 1995, p. 12.
  38. ^ Donnally, Trish. "Absolutely Enlightened", San Francisco Chronicle, California, 23 July 1998. Retrieved 2 June 2010
  39. ^ Whittell, Giles. "Futurism, Darling, is Absolutely the Next Big Thing", The Times, London, 22 August 1998, p. 9.
  40. ^ Murphy, Claire. "CSR: Urging Ethical Work", PR Week, UK, 19 April 2002
  41. ^ Anderton, Frances. "Inside Story: LA Story", The Guardian, London, 8 July 1998, p.T8.
  42. ^ "Dani News Magazine". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
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  46. ^ Byrne, Ciar. "Lynne Franks: Working Woman", The Independent, London, 23 May 2005, p. 4.
  47. ^ Franks, Lynne (2004). Grow: The Modern Woman's Handbook – How to Connect with Self, Lovers, and Others, Hay House, UK. ISBN 1-4019-0226-X
  48. ^ Franks, Lynne (2007). Bloom: A Woman's Journal for Inspired Living, Chronicle Books, UK. ISBN 0-8118-5755-7
  49. ^ Franks, Lynne (2005). Plant the Seeds and Pick the Blooms, Chronicle Books, UK. ISBN 0-8118-4686-5
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  51. ^ Women's Leadership Group Report, Edition 3 Archived 29 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, The Prince's Trust. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
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  63. ^ V-Day Website News Updates Archived 28 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  64. ^ Original letter dated 18 August 1909. Available online at The Times Online Archive. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  65. ^ Retrieved on 18 June 2010. Archived 4 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  66. ^ Letters Section. Justice for Congo – 100 years on, The Guardian, London, 19 November 2009, p. 35. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  67. ^ Howden, Daniel. Spirit of the past inspires Congo Campaign, The Independent, London, 19 November 2009, p. 26. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
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  73. ^ "Nema Foundation". Nema Foundation.
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  79. ^ Retrieved on 25 June 2010 Archived 2 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  80. ^ Retrieved on 3 July 2010. Archived 3 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  81. ^ Comedy Central website listings Archived 20 April 2013 at archive.today, Comedy Central (UK), 10 February 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  82. ^ www.naturalhealthmagazine.co.uk http://www.naturalhealthmagazine.co.uk/. Retrieved 1 July 2010. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[title missing]
  83. ^ "Middlesex University Website".


  • O'Byrne, Robert (2009). Style City: How London Became a Fashion Capital, Frances Lincoln Ltd, UK. ISBN 0-7112-2895-7
  • Europa Publications (2004). The International Who's Who 2004, Routledge, UK. ISBN 1-85743-217-7
  • Fraser, Kennedy (1981). The fashionable mind: reflections on fashion, 1970–1981, Knopf, USA. ISBN 0-394-51775-X
  • Franks, Lynne (1997). Absolutely Now!: A Futurist's Journey to Her Inner Truth, Woodstock, Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-859-6

External links[edit]