Michelle Mone is a Scottish entrepreneur who became a Conservative life peer in the House of Lords in 2015. She became embroiled in controversy for allegedly profiting from the UK government’s contract for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic but was well-known for her lingerie empire long before. Mone’s net worth is estimated at around $30 million in 2024.

Let’s explore Michelle Mone’s career, learn more about her net worth, and get into his life story to see what insights we can glean from Mone who’s also known as “Baroness Bra”.

Michelle Mone’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Michelle Mone keeps most of her investment and portfolio information private, like many wealthy people, which makes it impossible to determine her exact net worth. She also owns some assets with her husband. Some of her assets have also been frozen as part of the investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act as UK authorities investigate her PPE company Medpro.

However, we have been able to collect plenty of public information surrounding her various sources of income, investments, assets, and business ventures to build a careful estimate. Here’s what it looks like:

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Real estate $15 million
Investments in stocks and bonds $5 million
Other personal assets $10 million
Total Net Worth $30 million

Michelle Mone Net Worth: Early Life of Baroness Bra

Michelle Mone was born Michelle Georgina Allan in Dennistoun, Glasgow, on October 8, 1971. Her childhood was far from perfect and she recalled that until she turned 12 the family lived in a one-bedroom house that had no bath or shower. Her younger brother, who had spina bifida, died when he was only 10. Her father Duncan worked in a factory that made ink for newspapers while her mother Isobel worked for a sewing machine company.

Her father became paralyzed and couldn’t move his leg when she was young. Mone left school when she was 15 to care for her father and pursue a career in modeling.

“I left school at 15 without a penny to my name… The only thing I owned was determination and a can-do attitude,” Mone said on Instagram later.

 

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Michelle Mone Net Worth: The Beginnings of a Promising Career

Mone went into business early in her life. She recalled to the Belfast Telegraph, “And when I was 12 I had 17 teenagers working for me – delivering the papers in the morning and in the evening. I was always interested in business. There was no business in my family.”

After a short stint in modeling, Mone started working in sales and marketing for beer producer Labatt Brewing Company. She also worked part-time as a promotions girl for Radio Clyde. In two years, she got promoted to Labatt’s head of marketing in Scotland but subsequently got laid off. This was when she decided to start her own business.

Michelle Mone as an Entrepreneur

In 1996, Michelle co-founded MJM International Ltd with her then-husband Michael Mone. Three years later, the company launched the Ultimo bra which grew into a global business. The story of how she got into the bra business is an interesting tale. Mone got the idea to launch her own bra after she wore an uncomfortable cleavage-enhancing bra at a dinner dance with her husband Michael.

She worked on the business idea for three years and when on a holiday in the US, she learned about a new silicon technology and got its license for Europe. When Mone launched the product in 1999 at British high-street icon Selfridges in London, the stock sold out in just three hours – it was intended to last six months.

michelle mone selfridges
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Reportedly, famous actress Julia Roberts wore an Ultimo bra in the 2000 film Erin Brockovich. The business expanded over the years and added new products like lingerie. In 2014, she sold the majority of her stake in the company to Mas Holdings and joined the company’s board. However, Mone left the board the next year after she joined the UK’s House of Lords as a Baroness.

Meanwhile, Ultimo stopped trading in 2018 amid mounting losses. Commenting on the closure of Ultimo, a spokesperson said, “Having reviewed the business’ performance over the last three years as well as future prospects and considering the retail environment within which the business is operating, the board has, with regret, decided to cease operations of the Ultimo business in the UK.”

Michelle Mone, OBE

At the 2010 New Year Honours, Mone was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her “services to the lingerie industry”. In 2015 then-UK PM David Cameron appointed Michelle Mone to the House of Lords as Baroness Mone of Mayfair, making her a Tory peer.

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Michelle Mone’s Controversies

In 2006, Mone’s MJM and Dutch naturopath Jan De Vries collaborated to create a diet pill named Trimsecrets. While she credited the pill for aiding her weight loss journey, dieticians believed that the pill was of no use and flagged it for the exorbitant price – it cost £14.95 per fortnight.

The BDA (British Dietic Association) added Timesecrets to its “Top Five Worst Celeb Diets to Avoid” list in 2015. It also doubted the effectiveness of the capsules and said, “The pill has echoes of the grapefruit diet and includes guarana which is high in caffeine yet states it’s caffeine-free. Beware of pills and potions and make sure you know exactly what you are buying and taking.”

She was also accused of racism and paid a £50,000 settlement over the claims.

In 2015, Mone was criticized for going out of her way to court controversy on the back of world-renowned singer Rod Stewart. She had initially hired Stewart’s current wife, Penny Lancaster. Mone chose to replace Lancaster with his previous wife Rachel Hunter, in order to gain attention from the British tabloid media.

She was quoted as saying:

I did it for the team. I did it for the brand and I knew it was going to create lots of publicity.

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Michelle Mone’s PPE Controversy

Meanwhile, probably the biggest controversy of Mone’s life came during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK government awarded two contracts to supply PPE to PPE Medpro, a newly formed company. The first contract was to supply 210 million face masks for £80.85 million ($103.49 million at the time) while the second was to supply 25 million sterile surgical gowns for £122 million ($156.16 million) in May and June 2020.

The gowns were rejected and never used as they were found unfit for purpose. PPE Medpro however claimed that they were fit to use. The contracts, it later turned out, were awarded under the “VIP route” which was offered to companies that were introduced by people who had connections to the government.

Initially, Baroness Mone and her husband Douglas Barrowman denied any links with PPE Medpro with a lawyer saying “any suggestion of an association” between PPE Medpro and Mone would be “inaccurate”, “misleading” and “defamatory”.

PPE Medpro also said, “PPE Medpro was not awarded the contract because of company or personal connections to the UK government or the Conservative party.”

However, leaked documents which the Guardian reported on showed the trail of PPE money to Mone’s husband Douglas Barrowman.

Investigations into Mone’s PPE Business

In an interview with the BBC in 2023, Baroness Michelle Mone admitted that she and her husband Doug Barrowman lied to the media about their association with the company that sold PPE kits to the UK government. She said, “I did make an error in saying to the press that I wasn’t involved.”

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I wasn’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I regret and I’m sorry for not saying straight out, yes, I am involved,” added Baroness Mone in the interview.

Meanwhile, as of June 2024, the National Crime Agency is investigating PPE Medpro for the PPE scandal. Earlier this year, Anti-corruption investigators in the UK froze assets worth £75 million linked to Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman, drastically decreasing her current net worth.

Michelle Mone and Cryptocurrency

In a now-deleted tweet, Baroness Mone once claimed to be a cryptocurrency expert. Along with her boyfriend (and future husband) Doug Barrowman, she announced the launch of Equi Capital in 2018 which was a venture capital ICO to support startups.

However, crypto experts doubted her credentials in the digital asset industry and despite an extension, the ICO failed to garner anywhere near the $80 million that it was targeting. The ICO was finally closed and the funds were refunded to investors.

Meanwhile, we don’t have any publicly available information on whether Mone has invested in cryptocurrencies as well as traditional assets like stocks and bonds.

What Can We Learn From Michelle Mone’s Life?

Despite the controversy over the PPE contract scandal, Baroness Michelle Mone remains one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the UK with a rags-to-riches story. There is a lot we can learn from her life, especially about spotting opportunities.

Her story shows how with resilience and perseverance you can overcome difficulties. While Ultimo’s business eventually became successful, before it finally went bust, she recalls that there was a time when it almost went out of business early on after a distributor in the US ran off with $1.8 million worth of her money.

“If you’ve got drive, determination and a can-do attitude, you can achieve anything you want as an entrepreneur,” she said in an interview with the Guardian.

She also believes that being a graduate does not guarantee business success and you must work hard to achieve success. In the interview, she added, “In business, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re from a wealthy background or how good your education was.”

In an interview with Psychologies, when being asked about the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make, Mone said that they should remember that they are in business to make money.

She added, “Don’t sell yourself down the river with retailers, because they will want everything. They are traders, and they are good at getting the deal they want.” She also advised spending the company’s profits on fancy offices and said that businesses should be prepared for uncertainties.

That’s nothing short of golden advice especially as we just saw one of the worst funding winters for startups. Meanwhile, her life is also a lesson on how not abiding by the rules has its consequences as the bulk of her assets are now frozen amid the investigation over the PPE scandal.