Monday 22 October 2018

Ultimo founder Michelle Mone on how she went from 'having nothing' to creating €1bn of free PR and her new lingerie line

Baroness Michelle Mone OBE speaking at the Pendulum Summit 2018 at the Convention Center
Baroness Michelle Mone OBE speaking at the Pendulum Summit 2018 at the Convention Center
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Michelle Mone is set to shake up the lingerie market again with the launch of a new business.

The Scottish entrepreneur became a millionaire after founding the world-famous Ultimo brand.

However, she decided to sell the company to a major international brand MAS Sri Lanka in 2014.

She said that she decided to sell Ultimo because she wanted to write her autobiography and tour the world and start lots of over companies and brands.

However, at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin today, Ms Mone revealed that last week her warranties came to an end, “so I’m starting my own lingerie brand now next week,” she said to applause.

She also revealed the other business projects she has in the pipeline.

She said that she is involved in tech companies, and started Michelle Mone interiors a few months ago, and is currently building two towers with her partner in Dubai. “I’ve fallen in love, he’s amazing,” she said about her businessman partner Doug Barrowman.

She is also launching an app – connect to Michelle Mone – which will launch in four weeks time. It will target entrepreneurs and people who want to gain confidence.

“So guys, how did I get here today from the east end of Glasgow having absolutely nothing. My life was over really if you look at it on paper before it started, into now touring the world and involved in nine businesses we have launched in the last year. How did I manage to get here?

“As I said through my speech, you need balls of steel. We all have our knocks, and those knocks throw us on the floor and make us feel so hurt inside that if we don’t dust ourselves down and get up, we will never be able to fly higher and keep growing as human beings. I never ever take no for an answer,” she said.

The Ultimo brand she founded was worn by some of the most beautiful women in the world, including actress Julia Roberts in the role of Erin Brockovich.

“Over ten years, I created €1bn of free pr, and you guys can do that too,” she said.

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In a wide ranging speech, Ms Mone spoke about her upbringing in Glasgow and leaving school at 15. Even when the brand became successful, she encountered difficulties.

“Rachel Hunter said to me one day, what’s wrong with you Michelle on a beach in Miami doing a shoot. I said I’m the same age as you Rachael. Look at the size of me. I’m eight and a half stone over weight. I’m a size 22. I’m a young woman like you.

"She said: 'Michelle you are an amazing business woman. Why can’t you treat your body like a business?'

“Give your body kpi’s (key performance indicators). I did. It was like turning on a light switch. I started walking and I started running, and before I knew it, I had lost eight-and-a-half stone. But she said to me, when you lose the weight Michelle, you have to promise to do a lingerie shoot. Your own lingerie shoot. I said ‘I can’t do that.’”

“She said: ‘you have got to do that to inspire women around the world that they can do it too.’”

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Ms Mone said she did the shoot and the pictures went viral around the world.

She also touched on the breakdown of her marriage. “Do you know what I learned guys? There is no point being bitter in life. Life is so short, we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.”

In an interview with Independent.ie afterwards, she said it was her partner Doug who encouraged her to go back into the lingerie business.

“He said you know Michelle you are the best technical bra designer in the globe, with 17 inventions. Why don’t you go back. And he has been saying this to me.”

“I am starting up my own brand. This bra we are inventing – we know what we want to do. It is going to change the way women wear bras’.”

The name is not fully decided, but she thinks it will be called Michelle Mone Intimates.

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