In 1996, after just six weeks of being without work, the idea for Ultimo was born. It was at a dinner dance, wearing a very uncomfortable cleavage-enhancing bra that Michelle had the epiphany and realised the lingerie industry was crying out for innovation in the form of a bra that could exceed in comfort, cleavage-enhancement and uplift. In November, Michelle created just this launching Ultimo into the market.
Since the launch of Ultimo, Michelle has established herself as one of Scotland’s biggest exports and gone from strength to strength, adding ever more to her long list of awards, accolades and honours. In 2000, at the Epcot Centre in Florida, Michelle won the “World Young Business Achiever Award” and then, at the Corporate Elite Awards in London, went on to win “Business Woman of the Year”.
In 2001, at the British Apparel Export Awards, Michelle was presented with the “Best Newcomer” award by HRH the Princess Royal. Michelle’s status as one the UK’s leading entrepreneurs was confirmed when Prince Charles invited her to, first join the board of directors for The Prince’s Trust and then his Board of Main Council.
In October 2005, Michelle attended a speaking event with former US president Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, which led to her involvement in setting up the Women’s Enterprise Project in the Middle East in support of The Sultan of Oman. This encouraged Michelle to deliver her inspiring speeches all around the world, positioning her as one of the UK’s most notable global speakers.
Over the years Michelle has reached out beyond the original Ultimo, with the innovation of 15 patented inventions and brands including Ultimo Bridal, Ultimo Swimwear, Ultimo Black Label and joint venture lines such as ‘Adore Moi by Ultimo’ for Debenhams. Today Ultimo is available in store at Debenhams, Next, Littlewoods, House of Fraser, Harrods and Bentalls and online from ultimo.co.uk, ASOS.com and Figleaves.
In 2012, following three years of intensive research and development costs of over £1million, Michelle diversified her product line launching a range of tanning products in the beauty industry. UTan, one of Michelle’s leading tanning products and a UK best seller, is available from QVC, Boots and major department stores.
Throughout its lifetime, Ultimo has worked with a whole host 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 secured over one £1billion worth of press coverage for Ultimo in the brand’s sixteen year history.
In more recent years, both Michelle’s success and profile have grown in direct proportion. Not only was Ultimo the first UK lingerie brand to debut at New York Fashion Week in 2009, but Michelle also fronts a British Airways campaign whilst being a regular fixture on national television. As an expert in business, fashion, dieting and health, Michelle has a secure and fast increasing following of almost 1million on social media also.
Michelle’s TV appearances have included; Pointless Celebrities, BBC Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, BBC The Apprentice: You’re Fired, ITV 71 Degrees North and Surprise Surprise. Michelle’s most recent TV appearance was alongside Prime Minister David Cameron on the panel of ITV’s The Agenda. Michelle was also asked by David Cameron to work with the British Government throughout the Scottish referendum on the “Better Together” campaign.
Michelle’s profile is ever expanding both in the UK and worldwide as she continues to be an international speaking inspiration. Michelle’s most recent speaking intervention saw her speak alongside Chuck Hagel in a tour of South Korea. Back in the UK, Michelle motivates individuals through her mentoring programmes that range from a one to one meeting, to her London penthouse weekends.
In her private life, Michelle suffered a challenging few years of an acrimonious divorce and the fight to retain her business. Michelle has, however, come out on top buying her ex-husband out of the company and going it alone. Michelle has since forged a partnership with global lingerie giants MAS holdings, one the world’s biggest manufacturers of intimates, with a $1.4billion turnover and 63,000 employees. In 2015, it was time for Michelle to take the plunge and reveal her private life to the public in her autobiography: “My Fight to the Top”, now available to purchase and number one in three Amazon charts.
2. The Secret behind creating £1 Billion Media Buzz.
3. How to Build a Successful Brand.
4. No such word as Can’t.
5. Stressed, Fat, and nearly Bust.
6. Innovation, the key to survival.
7. The A-D of Business: A - Aspire, B - Believe, C - Commit, D - Deliver.