Profile: Michelle Mone
Born October 1972
Estimated Wealth: ┬ú40m
Michelle grew up in a working class family in the east end of Glasgow. At the age of 15 she left school, without qualifications, in order to help support her family after illness left her father paralysed. A short stint in modelling was followed by an early career in marketing. By the age of 20 she was already exhibiting business potential as she headed up the Sales and Marketing team at Labatts brewers.
In 1996 when the Whitbread Group took control of Labatts, Michelle took redundancy with the intention of setting up her own company. A brave decision perhaps, as at the time Michelle had just had her second child.
MJM International was set up in the November of the same year after her inspiration from wearing a particularly uncomfortable bra motivated her into creating an improved design offering greater comfort. As with any start up, it wasnΓÇÖt straightforward and the possibility of bankruptcy threatened in the first year. MichelleΓÇÖs husband Michael gave the business a real boost and his confidence to invest his inheritance, in addition to re-mortgaging their home, helped the business to survive.
The first big break, in 1999, came after the launch of the Ultimo lingerie range in Debenhams and Selfridges which, after 3 years of research and design, effectively utilised silicon technology to create cleavage enhancing bras. A year later Julia Roberts wore an Ultimo bra in Erin Brockovich and the brand was thrown into the media spotlight. The power of celebrity endorsement was obvious and Michelle went onto use a variety of famous stars including Penny Lancaster, Rachel Hunter, Katie Price and Kelly Brook to front her advertising campaigns.
Since the millennium the company has gone from strength to strength, adding to the portfolio of businesses under the MJM International enterprise, including UltimoΓÇÖs expansion into stand-alone stores. Personally, Michelle has gone onto win numerous business awards and was voted as Glamour MagazineΓÇÖs number one woman in business. Her ability to set up and run a multi-million pound business whilst balancing her life with motherhood has led to her becoming a role model for many aspiring business women.
Michelle and her company have maintained their Glaswegian routes, with MJM International headquartered on the outskirts of Glasgow in East Kilbride. As ScotlandΓÇÖs largest city and one of EuropeΓÇÖs top ten financial centres, Glasgow offers a wealth of benefits for businesses including commercial shipping and the use of two international airports.
The financial district in Glasgow, part of a 10 year scheme to create inward investment whilst retaining established companies, has seen an influx of financial companies into the city creating new jobs and helping to stimulate the economy.
Something you perhaps didnΓÇÖt knowΓÇª
Reportedly having a soft spot for the two main football teams in Glasgow, Michelle must be the only Glaswegian offering her support to both Rangers and Celtic.
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