Michelle Mone’s success secrets

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo lingerie, talks entrepreneurial spirit, juggling family life and why she's always wanted to be the female Richard Branson

    Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo lingerie, talks entrepreneurial spirit, juggling family life and why she’s always wanted to be the female Richard Branson.

    A confessed workaholic, the talented and beautiful 39-year-old founder of the Ultimo lingerie, is well used to fitting things into her busy schedule.

    Mone catches barely four hours asleep a night, deals with almost 600 emails a day, and runs her life by strict ‘To Do’ lists – but it’s her drive and passion that led her to set up what was to become the UK’s leading lingerie brand.

    Raised in Glasgow, Mone was forced to leave school with no qualifications at the age of 15 to support her father who was left paralysed from the waist down following a spinal disease.

    ‘I just had this drive and passion for business from an early age,’ she admits. ‘I’ve always looked up to Richard Branson. He’s creative, a good manager and he’s got balls: I think that’s what’s driven me. I’ve always wanted to be the female version of him.’


    Mone had the ‘lightbulb moment’ for Ultimo 14 years ago with husband and business partner, Michael.

    ‘I went to a dinner one night and was wearing an uncomfortable bra. When I left I told my husband I was going to invent a comfortable bra to give women a better cleavage,’ she explains.

    Since then, MJM International has gone from strength to strength.

    A mother to three children, Mone admits that juggling family life and a successful career can be a difficult balance for women, but she believes she’s found the secret.

    ‘I’m not superwoman,’ she says. ‘I just give everyone in my life KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and I mark them against how they are getting on. My three children and even my husband have them!’

    Mone has also established herself as a mentor to young entrepreneurs.

    ‘It doesn’t matter where you are from or what education you have, if you have a big dream, then you can do it. Women have all these incredible ideas and talents but they just lack the confidence to take risks,’ she explains. ‘If you have passion, drive and a really good product, then you’ll succeed.’

    With this in mind, Mone has put her name to the Barclays Take One Small Step competition where nine entrepreneurs compete to win £50,000 to invest in a start-up or expand their business.

    To see the business ideas and video entries from this year’s Take One Small Step competition, click here.


    Reading now