Michelle Mone OBE launched Ultimo in 1999 after inventing the Ultimo Plunge Bra. But the entrepreneur was always unhappy about her figure. "For years I tortured myself about my weight. I was miserable, I hated myself," she says.
Over the past three years, Mone has shed six stone, going from a size 22 to a petite size 10-12. She vowed to do a photoshoot once she reached her target weight: 11 stone. And here are the results.
"A lot of people will be shocked to see me doing this, particularly in the business world," says Mone. "A company head has never done anything like it, so I know it's controversial which is why I was petrified stepping in front of the camera.
"But I want to empower women and show them that if you're really unhappy about your body, you have the power to do something about it. Look at me, I was six stone overweight and SO unfit - but I managed to turn my life around, and you can too if you put your mind to it."
Having directed shoots with some of the UK's hottest models, including Kelly Brook, Rachel Hunter, Penny Lancaster and Mel B, Mone has now made her debut in front of the camera.
"And if it's the biggest mistake I¹ve ever made in my business career, then so be it," she says. "But I'm too proud of what I've achieved to not show it off. Kelly Brook is seven years younger than me and a great model, but I've trained for a year for this shoot as a personal challenge and done my very best. I want to show that a real woman like me, who's had three kids and who weighs 11 stone can model lingerie too."
Mone's photoshoot coincides with the launch of her 'Real Women' campaign. The MJM International co-owner is seeking 24 women of various shapes and ages to model the Ultimo range. "If I'm going to expect 24 women off the street to get their kit of for my brand, it's only fair that I do it too!" she says.
Will Mone start modelling on a regular basis, then? "How I look today is the result of three years of hard work, and I want to end that on a high note and put all my insecurities behind me," she says. "It's the end of a chapter and I won't be doing anything like this ever again."
The shoot is a great piece of publicity for Ultimo. And it's not bad for the bottom line either: Mone's shoot will have cost the firm a fraction of the usual model hiring fee. Smart business sense and a great marketing campaign. It only remains for Smarta to say one thing to Mone…