Baroness Mone of Mayfair OBE is the co-owner of Ultimo Brands International and founder of Ultimo, one of the UK’s designer leading lingerie brands. Honoured by the Queen with an OBE for her contribution to business, Michelle is regularly listed as one of the UK’s top female entrepreneurs and has built a hugely successful career on one incredibly simple concept: helping women to look and feel their very best.
Entrepreneurial spirit was prevalent from an early age in Michelle, who grew up in the East End of Glasgow. Michelle left school at 15yrs old with no qualifications to find full-time employment after her father was struck down by an illness leaving him confined to a wheelchair. Following several years working as a model, Michelle secured a job with Labatt Brewers where she quickly climbed the ranks from office junior; at just 22years old Michelle was appointed as Head of Sales and Marketing for Scotland.
However, Michelle’s exciting new career came to an untimely end when she was made redundant at just 24yrs old. Michelle was left devastated and began exploring alternative career options. In 1996 – just six weeks after being made redundant – the 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, uplifting and cleavage-enhancing than any other bra on the market. Ultimo was launched in November 1996.
Since launching Ultimo 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, followed by the ‘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 Trust and then 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 one of the UK’s most notable global speakers, delivering her inspiring speech to audiences around the world.
Over the years Michelle’s empire has gone from strength-to-strength, developing beyond the original umbrella of Ultimo to encompass 15 patented inventions and brands including Ultimo Bridal, Ultimo Swimwear, Ultimo Black Label and joint venture lines including ‘Adore Moi by Ultimo’ for Debenhams. Ultimo is currently available from department stores including Debenhams, Next, Littlewoods, House of Fraser, Harrods and Bentalls, and online from ASOS.com, Figleaves and ultimo.co.uk.
In 2012, after three years of intensive research and over £1million spent on development, Michelle expanded her portfolio and launched into the world of beauty with a range of tanning products. UTan, once of the UK’s bestselling tan products, is available from QVC, Boots and leading department stores.
Over the years Ultimo has worked with a long list of high-profile models and celebrities, including Penny Lancaster, Rachel Hunter, Helena Christensen, Sarah Harding, Mel B, Kelly Brook and Luisana Lopilato. As PR savvy as they come, Michelle has achieved over £1 billion worth of press coverage for Ultimo in the brand’s 15year history.
Over recent years Michelle’s success has soared, as has her public profile; not only was Ultimo the first UK lingerie brand to debut at New York Fashion Week in 2009, but Michelle is also a regular fixture on national television and, most recently, fronted a campaign for British Airways. An expert in diet, health, fashion and business, Michelle also boasts a Twitter following of almost 700,000 people, a figure that is growing daily.
Michelle’s TV appearances have included: BBC ‘Comic Relief Does The Apprentice’, BBC ‘The Apprentice: You’ve Been Fired’, BBC Celebrity Masterchef, ITV ‘71 Degrees North’ and ITV Surprise Surprise. Most recently Michelle appeared as a panel guest on ITV’s political panel show The Agenda alongside UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Michelle is one of the UK’s most notable global speakers, delivering her inspiring speech to audiences around the world. She is one of the UK’s top female entrepreneurs and has built a hugely successful career on one incredibly simple concept: Helping Women to look and feel their very best. If you are interested in Michelle speaking at your Conference, Dinner or Event, please contact a Prime Performers Booking Agent on 020 7251 8222 to discuss your requirements.
- BBC’s Technology Correspondent
- CEO and founder of MOBO.
- Journalist and academic former economic columnist at The Guardian and senior editor at The Economist.