Celebrity interview - Michelle Mone

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 February 2015

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©2012 DAN KENNEDY

Powerful women in business are no longer something to be wondered at, but Michelle Mone still stands in a class of her own when it comes to ambition, drive and achievement.

You will no doubt already be familiar with Michelle; she’s the lady who - after spending half of an evening in deep discomfort - removed her Wonderbra on a trip to the loo and announced to the table on her return that she was going to launch a company to make ‘no pain no gain’ a thing of the past when it came to corsetry.

Unsurprisingly, every woman and man there (including her husband) laughed at her announcement and said it would never happen. Less than three years later, Michelle launched her Ultimo bra at Selfridges in London, where six week’s of stock sold out in 24 hours and Michelle took her first steps to serious business success.

The rest of course is well-documented history, but behind the facts lies a story of a woman who simply won’t take no for an answer and has a determination to succeed we would wish on all our daughters…and sons.

“When I say I’m going to do something, I do it.’ Michelle says. ‘My upbringing was always being told you can’t do this and you can’t do that. I always used to say “why not?” Even when I was getting Ultimo going, people used to say “you need to be in London” but why? I was fighting all the way.’

Her tenacity was key to Ultimo’s success, of course. She had seen a news article about a new type of silicone used for breast prostheses while on holiday in Florida, and decided to track down the scientist behind them to request that he create a washable version that would be durable enough for external wear – in a bra.

‘That was my first major challenge. He was a German scientist and not open-minded at all.’ she says.

He eventually came round to Michelle’s way of thinking, as I suspect everybody who sets up as a barrier to her objectives does. I realise that this makes her sound pretty scary, and indeed, with her powerful Glaswegian accent and her no nonsense style, I suspect she has scared the pants off many a poor unfortunate. However, once you chat to Michelle for a few moments, you realise that she sees things in very simple terms – you have to look to yourself to achieve your goals in life, nobody else. No excuses.

‘People blame everybody else around them, but if you’ve not made it (whatever that looks like to you) then it’s because of yourself. It’s easy to blame others, but you should look to yourself.

Michelle took the same approach to her decision to lose weight, a step she took following her divorce, losing six stone and turning herself from, as she says: ‘a frumpy girl.’

‘Now I’m a glamorous woman, but I work at it.’

Michelle has made another significant change to her life, one which is designed to benefit more than women seeking better bras.

‘I sold 80% of Ultimo last year and it’s now set to become a global brand. I will still be around to ensure that it retains the brand integrity; our bras are for the sophisticated woman. We take great care to maintain our brand values in every aspect from design to fabrics to colours to models and photography.

‘I just love speaking. I now travel the world as a speaker and I just aim to inspire as many people as I can. The world needs to wake up. The world is depressed and the world is lazy and and the world needs to get some motivation.’

You go girl.

Michelle Mone’s autobiography: My Fight to the Top, is out on 5 March and you can find the Ultimo lingerie range at House of Fraser, Manchester.

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