Former BBC television’s Apprentice contestant and an ex-Miss Nottingham, Frances Bishop of Epworth, tells why she is happy to base her business in Doncaster.
The 26-year old mum set up shop in Doncaster town centre in 2015.
Pud! is her children’s clothing boutique that is doing so well she has expanded her other Newark outlet and is now to do the same in Doncaster.
She hopes to move from the King’s Arcade to larger premises, but still within the town centre.
“I love Doncaster”, she said. “It’s a positive place. There are many small independent businesses like mine that are thriving.
“That’s why I find it so frustrating when somewhere closes and you get all the negative comments on Facebook, slamming Doncaster and saying people don’t want to come because of the number of homeless people around and so on.
“There are homeless people in every town and city unfortunately. But Doncaster is a wonderful shopping centre with a fantastic market and it improves all the time ... consultations are going on now to see what people want.
“I always shop here and support the town’s businesses myself. I’ve found Doncaster people to be the most loyal, fiercely proud people and it is honestly endearing how supportive they are as customers.”
Frances is married to professional footballer Neal Bishop, now with Scunthorpe United, and the couple have a young son, Oscar.
She loves her role as a mum, and believes in ‘quality time’ with full focus on her son: “When I’m with Oscar, the mobile phone is off. I hate seeing parents out with their kids and glued to their phones,” she said.
“I love going to football with him at the weekend. We’re a close knit family but are probably pretty boring by most people’s standards.
The family have just moved to Epworth from Doncaster and are enjoying the community atmosphere and rural aspects of their new home.
Their shih tzu cavalier cross-breed dog, Hugo, is part of the family too.
“He’s funny looking but people always want to buy him, we often get asked,” laughed Frances. “Not that we’d ever part with him.”
Success in business
Frances claims much of her business success is down to her attitude, and giving great customer service...
“I’ll be calling round at a little girl’s house on my way home to drop her some shoes off for her birthday.
“It’s no skin off my nose ... I really don’t mind,” she said. “People appreciate it if you take trouble for them.”
Her resilience, and slick organisation as a result of being on The Apprentice has helped too:
“I’m completely down to earth and am able to take most things on the chin,” she said. “I also think it’s important that young people in Doncaster have good role models, and I try to be one. I do get teenagers come in to the shop and ask me questions and I give as much help as I can. I’m really pleased if I can pass on some of my experience or give positive advice, as I didn’t know where to turn for that when I needed it.”
It’s important for her to make money too, she added: “My husband is a footballer and is always dependent on the next contract. So it’s important for me to earn. I’m a pragmatic person and I always want to pay my way.”
Theirs is not a glamorous lifestyle, claims Frances. Her favourite activity is to be out in her wellies, walking with Neal. Oscar and Hugo.
She watches very little television and no soap operas. The one show she tunes in to regularly is an American one, Nashville. And her music preferences are largely American too ... and country.
“I love country music. Anything quiet and chilled appeals. But I enjoy an 80s remix too. I’m aware I sound like I’m over 40 and not 26, she laughs.
Her favourite film is Dirty Dancing, which is apt as she was named after its central character. And her favourite place to eat is Emilio’s Italian restaurant in Bawtry. The family order take-aways from Emilio’s too.
And Doncaster really is her ‘happy place’.”I get so angry when people pull Doncaster down. The racecourse is amazing. People go and have a great time and make friends. It’s all part of the spirit of Doncaster. One great place!”