Book Review: Michelle Mone, My Fight to the Top

Last night before we went to sleep I suddenly remembered that it’s already April! I totally forgot that Michelle Mone, owner of Ultimo, released her book last March 15.

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If you’re totally lost and don’t know what’s the fuss about with Michelle Mone, I don’t blame you. She’s not sikat kasi here in the Philippines and I’ve just heard about her in the UK News.

So who is Michelle Mone?

She is the inventor-owner of Ultimo Lingerie based in the Scotland. I first heard about her at Daily Mail. There was news there that she just had a photo shoot modelling her own lingerie. She just lost weight and was feeling proud of herself so she decided who can better be the model of her own brand but herself?

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I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman has so much guts to do this. ” From then on I was hooked, I had to know more about her.

Here is the summary of Michelle Mone’s book:

  • She is the only child of working class parents from the lower income part of Scotland. She had loving parents but had a tough upbringing because they were always struggling with money. It didn’t help that his dad lost his ability to walk when she was a teen.
  • At 13, she got a newspaper route but she showed her business skills early on by hiring kids teens that were much older than her to deliver the papers. Soon she was managing the newspaper route in her East end area and giving salary to 17 year old kids. Some mean kids tried to scare her away but she stood her ground.
  • At 15, she signed up for Avon by forging her mother’s signature. She began selling avon products in her neighborhood and soon was the top seller in the area. Avon didn’t know that she was still underage that time.
  • She then worked for a beer company selling beers and immediately outsold her co-workers even though she was a female. She made a deal with the pub owners that if they ordered this much of beer she will give them a free fridge.
  • She married Michael Mone and they had their first daughter. She was made redundant because the beer company was acquired by a bigger company. She took severance pay and wondered what she would do with it. She knew she wanted to have a business but don’t know what.
  • Her lightbulb moment came one time when they were out for dinner. She was wearing a cleavage enhancing bra and the wire was so uncomfortable it stuck her skin. And just like that she knew what she was going to do with her redundancy money. She was going to design her own push up bra! She had no prior experience, no qualifications in designing anything. No wonder her husband and family thought she was nuts!
  • While vacationing in the US she came upon these wonderful silicon gels you can put in your bra and it would up your bra size. that. She wanted to know who the supplier so she can sell it in Europe. So what did she do? She called every store selling lingerie asking for the supplier. Of course nobody gave it to her. But she persisted, she must have called all the stores twice. It was months later after she came upon a store clerk who finally gave her the company in Miami manufacturing the silicon gels.
  • She flew to Miami to talk to the manufacturer. She tried to persuade him sell her the distributorship to the UK but she wanted him to give it to her for free. She had no money to buy the distributorship. Of course the guy said no. Finally before leaving she pleaded one last time saying he doesn’t have business in Europe anyway and if he gives it to her she will make sure he’ll earn lots of money. He finally said yes.
  • When her first order of gel pads arrived and pitched it  to high end lingerie stores. She wrote her own press release and distributed it to various newspapers. Soon she was selling enough and her earnings were even more than her previous paycheck when she was employed.
  • Still she wanted to do her original vision of designing a bra and not just sell silicon pads. She can’t use the current silicon pads because these are solid. She needed silicon liquid so she can stuff it inside the bra. She asked her manufacturer for the chemist who invented this and this time it was readily given to her. She flew to Germany to work with the chemist. It took a year to get the gel right and when she finally got it she tried cutting up her old bras and sewing it inside. It was no use, it wasn’t polished enough.
  • She needed to get to the inside of lingerie business to know more so what did she do? She applied and got a job at Elle Lingerie as a  distributor. Once employed she asked for access to their lingerie factory and got it. Turned out the lingerie was made in Portugal by various small lingerie factories and she flew over there to learn more.
  • She got friendly with one lingerie factory, gave them the silicon pads and finally she had in her hands her first invention – her very own lingerie – Ultimo.
  • She quit her job at Elle and focused on selling the bra. She went to Selfridges, a department store, and asked for the name of the buyer for lingerie. It was information not given to her at first, she was told she must have an appointment. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and pleaded and pleaded. She brought her baby with her so the receptionist took pity on her and called the buyer. The buyer told her the same thing she needed an appointment and the products have to be discussed by the committee. She convinced her to try the bra on and when the buyer finally did she felt in love with the bra.
  • Selfridges asked for 6 months worth of stock but she has no money to manufacture that many bras. She racked her brain on where to get money and remembered she read a businessman from her country, Scotland, who just sold his company for 300 million pounds. She didnt know him but tracked him down and convinced him to invest 200,000 pounds in her company. Yes she was that gutsy, and persistent! She just wouldnt take no for an answer.
  • When her lingerie was about to launch at Selfridge she was down to her last 500 pounds. She needed to market the bra but what could she do with 500? She tried to be creative and hired models posing as surgeons. She let them hold a sign saying they are going to be bankrupt because of the Ultimo bra. Women are not going to need their services anymore. It worked  and she got orders left and right.

I’m going to stop the bullets here because I realized it’s going to be long to summarize the whole book. So many things happened afterwards.  She had to endure so many problems but she kept fighting and fighting.  She had to overcome hurdle after hurdle. Her stamina is just amazing. Reading her book made me realized how much hard work it takes to achieve your dream. Nagdadalawang isip na tuloy ako if kaya ko ba ito? Haha

In the end, she gained a lot of things and she lost a lot of things but ultimately, she found herself. She sold her company and now speaks to motivate and help people achieve their dreams. Michelle Mone is a living testament that money doesn’t make you happy. Relationships and finding what  you want to do with your life that makes a difference to other people will.

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