Michelle Mone OBE, 40, is the creator of Ultimo, the UK’s leading designer lingerie brand. Listed as one of the top three female entrepreneurs in the UK and recognised by the Queen with an OBE honour for her contribution to the lingerie industry, Michelle has built a hugely successful career on an incredibly simple concept: giving today’s women what they want.
Entrepreneurial spirit was prevalent from an early age in Michelle, who grew up in the east end of Glasgow. Michelle left school at 15 with no qualiﬁcations to ﬁnd full-time employment, after her father was struck down by an illness leaving him conﬁned to a wheelchair. To support her family Michelle took on a job at Labatt Brewers’ and quickly climbed the ranks from ofﬁce junior to senior manager, running the Sales & Marketing team by the time she was just 20 yrs old.
But it was in 1996 when her idea for Ultimo was born. Whilst attending a dinner dance Michelle was wearing a very uncomfortable cleavage-enhancing bra and as a result had a “light bulb” moment; Michelle decided to invent a bra that was more comfortable and cleavage enhancing than any other bra on the market.
Since launching the business Michelle has established herself as one of Scotland’s biggest exports; in 2000 Michelle won the “World Young Business Achiever Award” at the Epcot Centre, Florida, and then “Business Woman of the Year” at the Corporate Elite Awards in London.
In 2001 Prince Charles invited Michelle to join the Board of Directors for The Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust and more recently his Board of Main Council, conﬁrming her status as one of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs. Michelle also won “Best Newcomer” at the British Apparel Export Awards, presented by HRH the Princess Royal, adding to her long list of awards, accolades and recognitions.
In October 2005 Michelle attended a speaking engagement with former US president Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, and went on to support the Sultan of Oman in setting up women’s enterprise in the Middle East. Michelle has since become a high-proﬁle guest at speaking engagements and corporate events all over the world.
Over the years Michelle’s business has gone from strength-to-strength, developing beyond the original umbrella of Ultimo to encompass eleven patented “Miracle” inventions and brands including Ultimo Bridal, Ultimo Swimwear, Ultimo Shapewear, Miss Ultimo and partner lines including Bra Queen for Tesco Adore Moi for Debenhams and Michelle’s Innovations for Dunnes.
After three years of intensive research and over £1million spent on development, Michelle recently launched into the world of beauty with two new product ranges. The ﬁrst being UTan heralded as the best self-tan to hit the market by top beauty buyers from retailers across the UK . The second being USculpt developed by the world’s best beauty experts, the products are a fusion of technology and the ﬁnest ingredients to re-shape and re-sculpt the contours of the body, making problem areas a thing of the past. Most exciting is the Boobs Minus product, the ﬁrst of its kind on the market. Michelle knows women and has made sure there is a solution for everyone’s body concerns. The Ultimo Beauty range is available in Selfridges, Boots, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams stores nationwide.
Over the years Ultimo has established a large and loyal customer base and contracts with a string of high-proﬁle models and celebrities, including Penny Lancaster, Rachel Hunter, Helena Christensen, Sarah Harding, Mel B, Kelly Brook and our current celebrity model Luisana Lopilato. Michelle has achieved over £500 million worth of press coverage in 12 years.
Over recent years Michelle’s success has soared; not only was Ultimo the ﬁrst UK lingerie brand to debut on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week in 2009, and landed a mammoth deal with Tesco clothing to develop, design and manufacture “Bra Queen” lingerie. Michelle has also become a popular media personality having appeared on BBC’s Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, 71 Degrees North and Celebrity Masterchef.