Michelle Mone OBE, 39, is the co-owner of MJM International and 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 ...
Michelle Mone OBE, 39, is the co-owner of MJM International and 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. MJM
International was set up in November 1996.
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 and Adore Moi for Debenhams.
In addition to its jointly owned brands, MJM International currently supply Tesco, Debenhams, Next, and Asos.com, along
with a number of independent lingerie stores throughout Europe. Michelle has also recently expanded into womenswear
with Ultimo Couture, a line of luxury evening dresses.
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.
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, but she has opened 23 ‘shop in shops’ within Debenhams in key cities throughout the UK
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 the likes of BBC’s Comic Relief Does the Apprentice, 71 Degrees
In my line of work, I have had the great opportunity to work with a number of beautiful and inspiring women. Launching Ultimo in 1996 stemmed from my own discomfort as I wore a very uncomfortable cleavage enhancing bra on the evening of a dinner dance, I was very conscious...