COLLEEN FRANCISCA, 26
It seemed like a done deal when Colleen Francisca, satisfied with her 2006 Miss Singapore World crown, declared: 'I'm done with beauty pageants.'
But the 26-year-old entrepreneur - also known as Briefcase Girl No. 10 on the second season of the television gameshow Deal Or No Deal - has once more been lured back to the beauty pageant circuit.
She will represent Singapore in the Mrs World 2008 finals in Russia next month.
Yes, she is a 'Mrs' - she got hitched in May last year to her business-coach husband whom she had been dating for five years.
On her return to the world of sashes and tiaras, Francisca throws up her hands in mock defeat and says: 'It just goes to show that you should never say never.'
The 1.73m-tall beauty queen retired from the pageant scene after representing Singapore at the 2006 Miss World finals in Warsaw, Poland.
'To me, Miss World is the ultimate pageant and you can't join anything else that trumps that,' says the veteran of nine beauty contests, explaining the declaration that was published in The New Paper last December.
But fate, and Tracy Lee, events director of ERM Marketing, the company that holds the franchise rights to pageants like Miss and Mrs Singapore World, came calling.
Lee called her about three months ago to encourage her to take part in Mrs Singapore World. Still, Francisca remained undecided.
Compared to other beauty queens who seem to draw flak for everything from their dress sense to the way they speak, Francisca seems to have dodged these bullets.
'I've been so lucky,' she says. 'Everybody has been very kind to me. I've never had negative things written about me.'
Ultimately, it was a purely commercial reason that convinced her to put on her best gown and flash her pearly whites on the world stage once again.
She has co-designed a line of bohemian-inspired jewellery and maxi dresses with her sister Scarlet, 31, and will launch an online boutique called Francisca at the end of the year.
The budding entrepreneur also owns another online business, The Cupcake Boutique (www.thecupcakeboutique.net), where she sells homemade desserts and other themed product lines like spa products, wedding favours and stationery.
'I have a different goal for taking part in Mrs World - the women I'll be meeting at this contest are the customers I'm targeting for my fashion line,' she says.
'It will be a great networking opportunity for me.'
She adds: 'This really is the last one.'
We shall wait and see.
No. of pageants: 9
No. of crowns: 6
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times on Jun 5, 2008.