Inside the Deciem Firings and Resignations (2022)

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This post was updated Friday, February 23rd at 8:59 pm.

After a few quiet weeks, beauty company Deciem finds itself back in the spotlight. Yesterday Racked broke the news that the company, which owns popular skincare brand The Ordinary, had lost co-CEO Nicola Kilner and CFO Stephen Kaplan. This came a few weeks after a period of intense scrutiny of founder Brandon Truaxe, whose increasingly erratic-appearing behavior on Instagram concerned fans of the brand. Stories from former employees then emerged, painting a picture of some chaos behind the scenes at the company as well.

Truaxe has since confirmed that Kilner was indeed fired and that CFO Stephen Kaplan, who had been with the company for less than a year, had resigned. Truaxe forwarded several internal Deciem emails to Racked, including information about the inner financial workings of the company and conversations with employees. In one email to Racked, he said the goal in sending these was “transparency,” and in another, he wrote: “There’s no trouble at Deciem. We are exploding, our customers love us and the drama media is creating will eventually die off and be discredited to your disadvantage.”

A post shared by THE ABNORMAL BEAUTY COMPANY (@deciem) on

(Video) Deciem founder Brandon Truaxe dead at 40

One shared email exchange was with Dr. Tijion Esho, the London-based cosmetic doctor who launched a lip-care line, called Esho, with Deciem. In a now-deleted Instagram post that arguably garnered Deciem and Truaxe the most online backlash during a week of heightened publicity, Truaxe ended his company’s relationship with Esho and said he was going to return the Esho brand’s trademarks. In an email, Truaxe told Esho he had to do it publicly, writing, “My partners would have never allowed me to freely give you this trademark after our investment to register it and develop the range.” In an exchange dated a few weeks later, Esho stated, “I think that I’m allowed to feel frustrated and upset,” and Truaxe responded, “You’re being very mean to me despite my explanation to you…”

In a statement provided to Racked by Esho’s representative, he said that he had been working with Kilner to recover his trademark and product formulations. Since her departure from the company two days ago, he notes a timeline is now “unconfirmed” and the fate of the line “undecided.” He hopes to still meet with Truaxe (who was in London this week, although Esho said that due to scheduling difficulties, a meeting was impossible) “to close this chapter.” He also wrote, in response to emails he received from Deciem employees, “I extended my gratitude and admiration for the individuals in the Deciem team. They showed me a lot of support and believed in me so I continue to be extremely grateful to that.”

The firing of co-CEO Nicola Kilner, which is likely to cause temporary confusion for the third parties she was responsible for working with, was a surprising development; she and Truaxe have always appeared to have a close bond. Kilner and Shamin Mohamed Jr., Deciem’s director of operations, had a now-disputed conversation about Truaxe’s mental health. When the CEO heard about it, it led to mistrust on his part. Truaxe eventually sided with Mohamed, a longtime friend whom he knew prior to starting Deciem, and questioned Kilner’s loyalty. When the blow-up occurred, Truaxe was visiting the brand’s Covent Garden store for a customer meet-and-greet and a visit from Estée Lauder, which has a minority stake in the brand.

Neha Gupta, Deciem’s human resources director, was there, and she described the scene on a call. “Brandon was crying on the floor. He was devastated,” she says. Gupta delivered the news to Kilner that she was being terminated after the decision was made.

Kilner offered only this statement: “I love Brandon and the team unconditionally and am too hurt to comment further.”

I don’t want to let people go,” Truaxe says. “Hiring people is difficult. Firing them is very difficult, but when you have no choice, you have no choice. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect me. The only thing that matters is that the consumers are buying the product. But the drama is just hurting my team.”

(Video) DECIEM - a tale of tragedy and beauty with CEO Nicola Kilner

Losing CFO Stephen Kaplan will also likely negatively affect the company, at least for a while. Kaplan, reached on a call while on vacation, confirmed he had resigned. Truaxe shared Kaplan’s official resignation email with Racked. It read, in part: “Taking into account everything that has been going on over the last few days, and especially after seeing your email regarding Nicola’s termination; I see no reason for my continued presence at Deciem.”

Inside the Deciem Firings and Resignations (1)

Truaxe says, “Stephen came to clean up our financials.” He then notes that perhaps it was a mistake to have given Kaplan “a little bit of power” in the company. “It is really destructive that Stephen could not just accept the fact that a 40-year-old is the CEO, and in his 60s he’s reporting to me.”

Kaplan declined to discuss the details, but says he came to his decision a few weeks ago, while also noting he really enjoyed his time at the company at first. “If anybody says anything, they’re terminated,” he says. “It’s not the way I want to live; it’s not the way you want to run a business. I think, unfortunately, in reality the two people who really tried to have Brandon’s back and the business’s back were Nicola and I. I am always going to voice my opinion; nothing’s going to hold me back. And Brandon didn’t like it.”

Truaxe also shared an email detailing a laundry list of financial projects that Kaplan had been working on with his team. One involves an audit in which there was an accounts receivable issue that could potentially result in an income reduction for the company of 3.2 million Canadian dollars (about $2.5 million). Of this, Truaxe says, “He screwed up the audit.” However, industry sources note that an adjustment like this can be normal for a growing company. Without more information and context, it’s impossible to analyze the meaning of this information.

“There were a lot of numbers that we had to just work out,” Kaplan says. “Deciem didn’t have books that were done that were easy to work on, so in this last week or so I worked out that it was an issue we better resolve when I got back.” (He had planned a vacation prior to resigning.)

Estée Lauder remains a minority investor with the company. Truaxe told Women’s Wear Daily that its investment was 28 percent and his was 72 percent. When asked by Racked about keeping the business on track after these new developments, he says, “We’re on track. Nothing has changed. Our business has exploded. We’ve gone from $45 million to $260 million this year. Why is nobody saying, ‘What an amazing story!’?”

After Kilner was fired, Truaxe sent an email (shared with Racked) to Leonard Lauder, patriarch of the Lauder family and chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies. It read, in part:

I’m out of breath and have left our store. I’ll terminate Nicola with generosity and gentleness tonight. If your team starts to worry, please let them know that I am calm and am not making any irrational decisions. I’m worried about your team’s view of me more than anything... I’m so sorry, Leonard. I know you did not invest in me to live a painful drama. I’ll work hard to make it up to you and your team.

(Video) NO BS BULLETIN: Deciem Founder @ White House; ABH is Sold & More

It’s unclear if Lauder responded. An Estée Lauder representative sent the following statement: “The Estée Lauder Companies is a minority investor in Deciem, and, as such, we do not have the power to control the company’s operations, social media or personnel decisions. We believe in Deciem’s incredible creativity, innovation and product offerings.”

Besides expressing some concerns about raising more working capital, Truaxe is confident about Deciem’s future. He anticipates that two new manufacturing facilities will open in April. He claims Deciem has six new manufacturing partners and that the company has been producing “millions of units more” per month. Many of The Ordinary’s products are currently sold out at Sephora.

When asked if he had spoken to Sephora representatives about the recent company shake-ups, Truaxe said he hadn’t. “I love them. But if they don’t want to be my partner, that’s okay, because we are the ones driving the sales, not them. It’s consumer demand,” he says. “If Sephora wants to kick us out because Nicola has left, that’s okay. The customer will come to us directly... I’m happy with [our] store growth.” Truaxe also mentioned that products would be entering Ulta, though that partnership had been delayed “over a year” because of stock issues. An Ulta representative said in a statement, “While we have no news to share at this time, we are always looking at new, relevant brands to expand our product assortment so we can continue to delight our guests.”

Finally, what does Truaxe make of the backlash from fans for his sometimes unconventional social media posts and those who perceived he had insulted them on Instagram? “They insulted me,” he says, voice rising. “It’s my brand. People who have never had a job in their life successfully are not going to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. If they don’t like it, Instagram allows you to block me, it allows you not to follow me, but you cannot stand there and say what I can or cannot do. There was only one day I got emotional.

Truaxe started this whole conversation by discussing his former employees, saying, “I don’t want to hurt them. I just want them to stop hurting me.” He ended the conversation on the same theme.

When employees leave, they leave with a grudge, they leave with anger, which is on both sides. But if you fuel that, anger is the most powerful emotion, but it lasts only a second,” Truaxe says. “Love takes longer, but it continues. I love our team. We’re happy. Why would I destroy the most beautiful thing I’ve built? It doesn’t make emotional sense, it doesn’t make financial sense... The proof is always in what the consumer thinks. Go and read our reviews. Go read the people who met me at the Covent Garden store, go on our Instagram and see what they’re saying about me. The truth is very obvious.”

Update 2/23/18 at 8:59 pm:

(Video) The method behind Canadian beauty product founder's madness

After this story was published, Kaplan sent some of his own email correspondence with Truaxe to Racked, noting that it was “factually incorrect” to say the audit issue was his fault, and that he had offered to return to Deciem to help sort through the issue, which predated his tenure there. In a subsequent call to Racked, Kaplan just wanted to note that he felt that Truaxe’s “blind loyalty to the core team” was a major problem.

Updated 2/23/18 at 4:24 pm with a statement from Ulta.

FAQs

Why is DECIEM controversial? ›

DECIEM's history

In 2018, DECIEM was embroiled in controversy after controversy after workplace racism and harassment allegations were voiced against its founder Brandon Truaxe.

What happened to DECIEM? ›

Deciem has more than doubled its revenue growth each year since 2017—posting a record $460 million in revenue in the 12 months ended in January 2021. It now has more than 1,300 employees. Estée Lauder purchased a majority stake in the company earlier this year after pouring another $1 billion into the company.

Where is DECIEM from? ›

Deciem was founded in Toronto, Canada in 2013 and has since expanded across the globe.

Who owns the abnormal beauty company? ›

In 2013, Brandon Truaxe founded Deciem, known as “the abnormal beauty company,” with the goal of raising transparency in the beauty industry. The company's portfolio includes six brands; The Ordinary is its largest brand followed by NIOD.

How did Deciem founder Brandon died? ›

Last year, even as Deciem grew, Mr. Truaxe plunged the company into chaos. He was committed to hospitals four times in three countries. He died in January of this year, after a fall from a Toronto condominium.

Why did Sephora stop selling The Ordinary? ›

The comment reads, "We are leaving Sephora due to payment issues but will launch online and in stores with Ulta and Douglas imminently." (Douglas is a European retailer that Deciem also just launched a partnership with).

Is Deciem really closing? ›

Deciem, maker of The Ordinary, is closing several of its smaller brands. The business will wind down HIF, Hylamide, Abnomaly and The Chemistry Brand.

Why is The Ordinary closing? ›

To refocus its business in science-first skincare.

Deciem recently announced it would close HIF, Hylamide, Abnomaly and The Chemistry Brand in an Instagram post. The beauty company will focus on its crown jewel, The Ordinary, known for its affordable, ingredient-focused serums, as well as skincare brand NIOD.

Is The Ordinary shutting down? ›

The Ordinary owner announced it will close HIF, Hylamide, Abnomaly and The Chemistry Brand in an Instagram post. Instead, Deciem will focus on its crown jewel, The Ordinary, known for its $7, ingredient-focused serums, and skin care brand NIOD.

Who is the CEO of The Ordinary? ›

The 5 Products Worth Buying from The Ordinary

Aside from Truaxe's initial revolutionary vision for The Ordinary and the company's other brands, the reason Deciem has overcome its dark period — and become more profitable than ever — is because of co-founder and CEO Nicola Kilner.

What does Deciem stand for? ›

According to a company representative, "The name comes from decima, which means 'ten' in Latin. Brandon called his craziness Deciem since everyone was always telling him not to do ten things at once, and he wanted to do exactly that.

Why is The Ordinary so popular? ›

Many brands talk about authenticity, but few deliver on it the way The Ordinary has. Key to the success of The Ordinary is its no nonsense product names. Take its top selling Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Yes, the company actually gave a skincare product a name that sounds like something out of a chemistry book.

Why is The Ordinary so controversial? ›

As Deciem's sub-brand the Ordinary gains popularity for its $9 acids, its founder gains notoriety for his incendiary and even offensive Instagram presence. He's used the platform to insult fans, cancel partnerships, and even posted a photo of an impoverished-looking New Yorker in front of one of the brand's stores.

Is Deciem discontinuing Hylamide? ›

Deciem marks ninth anniversary; discontinues brands HIF, Hylamide, Abnomaly, and The Chemistry Brand. THE WHAT? Deciem has announced it is to discontinue brands HIF, Hylamide, Abnomaly, and The Chemistry Brand as it marks its 9th anniversary.

Why did The Ordinary discontinue salicylic acid? ›

As you are all aware, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid has been discontinued for over two years now. Apparently, it was a super-strong formulation and a lot of people reacted badly to it. So Deciem took the product off the shelves promising to reformulate with a less irritating product.

How much did Estee Lauder pay for Deciem? ›

Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. is paying US$1-billion to take control of Toronto-based Deciem Beauty Group Inc., two years after the death of controversial Deciem co-founder Brandon Truaxe.

What happened to Hylamide? ›

Deciem discontinues Hylamide, The Chemistry Brand, HIF & Abnomaly.

Is there any fake The Ordinary products? ›

There are quite a few fake The Ordinary products around. Some are really good, and some are so bad, you can´t believe people even question if it is fake. To avoid counterfeit products, always purchase through authorised The Ordinary or NIOD stockists.

Is The Ordinary a Korean brand? ›

The Ordinary Products from Deciem Korea.

How long should you use The Ordinary products? ›

We'd recommend using your products from The Ordinary within 12 months. The brand also suggests to consult the period-after-opening symbol to be sure.

What happened to The Ordinary founder? ›

Deciem founder Brandon Truaxe, the brain behind The Ordinary brand, dies aged 40. Brandon Truaxe, the founder and former CEO of cosmetic skincare company Deciem, which is behind the cult brand The Ordinary, has died at 40.

Is The Ordinary made in Canada? ›

Country of Origin (Global Supply) All of The Ordinary's products are owned by DECIEM, but for some products the raw materials are imported from another country and bottled and packed in DECIEM Canada. Because of this, DECIEM has decided to indicate this clearly on their packaging.

What brands are under Deciem? ›

In the meantime, Deciem wants to continue building momentum with their core brands: The Ordinary, NIOD (skincare with cutting-edge science), The Chemistry Brand (skin-care treatments for hands and body), Hylamide (multi-functional skincare that targets various skin depths) and Fountain (liquid hair and skin supplements ...

Does The Ordinary dry out skin? ›

Luckily, The Ordinary's only cleanser, The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, is perfect for dry skin. This cleanser is very gentle and is formulated to not only clean but also moisturize the skin. What is this? It contains squalane and lipophilic esters that dissolve makeup and other impurities while moisturizing the skin.

Who owns NIOD? ›

Deciem, the company that owns The Ordinary and NIOD, is closing the majority of its skincare brands. “This new approach will power us to do more of what you love, while allowing us the space to innovate with new brands in the future.”

Why is DECIEM closed today? ›

Skincare brand Deciem has temporarily shut down after its founder made the shock announcement on social media, citing “major criminal activity.”

What does The Ordinary vitamin C do? ›

The key ingredient in The Ordinary's Vitamin C Suspension is a pure, powdered L-ascorbic acid suspension. Vitamin C is a skincare hero, brightening the skin and helping to fade dark spots and discoloration while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improving the skin's overall texture.

Where is The Ordinary from? ›

The Ordinary is a skincare brand founded in 2013 by Brandon Truaxe, an entrepreneur from Canada, that is known for its simple, no-nonsense approach to beauty. The brand's philosophy is that “skincare doesn't have to be complicated or expensive,” and its products are designed to be both effective and affordable.

When was The Ordinary founded? ›

In August 2016, Truaxe co-launched DECIEM's The Ordinary product line with twenty-seven products, combining cutting-edge science with modest price points. He was realising his mission to "democratise serious skincare".

How much is The Ordinary worth? ›

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has agreed to buy a majority stake in Deciem, the parent company of popular skin care brand The Ordinary, at a $2.2 billion valuation.

Where is ordinary headquartered? ›

Where is Ordinary Skincare Co 's headquarters? Ordinary Skincare Co is located in Cape Town, NA - South Africa, South Africa . Who are Ordinary Skincare Co 's competitors? Alternatives and possible competitors to Ordinary Skincare Co may include Rosen Skincare , Sanitas Skincare , and Overt Skincare .

How much is DECIEM worth? ›

Estee Lauder to buy Deciem, Canadian skincare company behind brand The Ordinary. The Estee Lauder Cos Inc. has struck a deal to buy Canadian skincare company Deciem Beauty Group Inc. at a valuation of US $2.2 billion.

What is the difference between DECIEM and The Ordinary? ›

The Ordinary is a brand from DECIEM. We are an umbrella of brands focused on advanced functional beauty. Our team is specialized in materials chemistry and biochemistry, and we have brought pioneering innovation in skincare through our core brands, Hylamide and NIOD.

Is ordinary vegan? ›

You'll be pleased to know that The Ordinary products are indeed vegan, and are certified vegan by PETA. This goes for both the skincare products as well as the makeup that the brand also sells.

Is minimalist a Korean brand? ›

India-based brand Minimalist is aiming to drive the growth of its brand by focusing efforts on educating the nation's consumers about clean beauty skin care.

Who is the target audience of The Ordinary? ›

DECIEM Company
They pride themselves in being…Target AudienceAll DECIEM products are FREE of…
BeautyPeople who appreciate their dedication to their qualityMethylchloroisothiazolinone
Sensibly PricedMethylisothiazolinone
Animal Oils
Benzalkonium Chloride
7 more rows
11 May 2017

Is Ordinary A medical grade? ›

Enter The Ordinary. This collection of skincare products offers medical-grade formulas at a price that won't give you sticker shock.

Is ordinary ethical? ›

The Ordinary is *Cruelty-Free. The Ordinary has confirmed they do not test their products or ingredients on animals or ask others to test on their behalf. Their suppliers also do not test on animals, nor do they allow their products to be tested on animals when required by law.

Can you use The Ordinary buffet on eyes? ›

Can I apply “Buffet” around my eyes? Yes. It is safe to apply in the eye area.

Is The Ordinary niacinamide bad for sensitive skin? ›

"Niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient because it is safe for all skin types, even aging, dry, and sensitive skin," she said.

Is the brand ordinary good? ›

Our Verdict. Overall, we think that The Ordinary products are formulated well with high-quality, evidence-based ingredients. And it's a plus that the products are priced low, making this brand accessible to many consumers.

Is Hylamide better than ordinary? ›

Hylamide has brighter packaging than The Ordinary is the first noticeable difference. The individual products are easier to understand, you get more information on the side of the box, regarding what to expect from it.

Who makes Hylamide? ›

Review and information about Hylamide's 25% Vitamin C C25 Booster.

What is Hylamide good for? ›

"A highly active concentrate of advanced hyaluronic complexes, next-generation peptides and biotechnologies to target rehydration, while improving the look of lines, wrinkles and textural damage."

What can replace salicylic acid? ›

Ahead, we've listed down some milder alternatives to salicylic acid.
  • The double-duty benzoyl peroxide.
  • The bacteria-repelling tea tree oil.
  • The skin-soothing allantoin.
  • The pore-unclogging glycolic acid.
  • The salicylic-complementing sulfur.
24 Dec 2021

What should you not use with ordinary salicylic acid? ›

So, in short, don't use The Ordinary's copper peptide serum and salicylic acid at the same time. Because these work best in different pH environments, you can use them at different times of the day.

Can I use the ordinary salicylic acid everyday? ›

Apply once daily in the evening. Apply a small dot to the target area or apply a small amount over the face for general use. Do not use on sensitive, peeling or compromised skin.

Why is Deciem closed today? ›

Skincare brand Deciem has temporarily shut down after its founder made the shock announcement on social media, citing “major criminal activity.”

Does The Ordinary still exist? ›

The Ordinary is a brand from DECIEM. We are an umbrella of brands focused on advanced functional beauty. Our team is specialized in materials chemistry and biochemistry, and we have brought pioneering innovation in skincare through our core brands, Hylamide and NIOD.

Who owns The Ordinary skincare? ›

In August 2016, Truaxe co-launched DECIEM's The Ordinary product line with twenty-seven products, combining cutting-edge science with modest price points. He was realising his mission to "democratise serious skincare".

Why is The Ordinary so popular? ›

Many brands talk about authenticity, but few deliver on it the way The Ordinary has. Key to the success of The Ordinary is its no nonsense product names. Take its top selling Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Yes, the company actually gave a skincare product a name that sounds like something out of a chemistry book.

What happened to The Ordinary founder? ›

Deciem founder Brandon Truaxe, the brain behind The Ordinary brand, dies aged 40. Brandon Truaxe, the founder and former CEO of cosmetic skincare company Deciem, which is behind the cult brand The Ordinary, has died at 40.

Is DECIEM still open? ›

DECIEM was founded in 2013 on the principle of doing everything others don't do and changing the world of beauty based on this principle. Currently open for Click and Collect orders only, details here.

Is there a fake The Ordinary? ›

There are quite a few fake The Ordinary products around. Some are really good, and some are so bad, you can´t believe people even question if it is fake. To avoid counterfeit products, always purchase through authorised The Ordinary or NIOD stockists.

What does DECIEM stand for? ›

According to a company representative, "The name comes from decima, which means 'ten' in Latin. Brandon called his craziness Deciem since everyone was always telling him not to do ten things at once, and he wanted to do exactly that.

Is The Ordinary a Korean brand? ›

The Ordinary Products from Deciem Korea.

What country is The Ordinary from? ›

The Ordinary is a skincare brand founded in 2013 by Brandon Truaxe, an entrepreneur from Canada, that is known for its simple, no-nonsense approach to beauty. The brand's philosophy is that “skincare doesn't have to be complicated or expensive,” and its products are designed to be both effective and affordable.

Did Loreal buy ordinary? ›

Deciem and The Ordinary Will Be Acquired By Estée Lauder By 2024.

Is The Ordinary made in Canada? ›

Country of Origin (Global Supply) All of The Ordinary's products are owned by DECIEM, but for some products the raw materials are imported from another country and bottled and packed in DECIEM Canada. Because of this, DECIEM has decided to indicate this clearly on their packaging.

Is ordinary vegan? ›

You'll be pleased to know that The Ordinary products are indeed vegan, and are certified vegan by PETA. This goes for both the skincare products as well as the makeup that the brand also sells.

Does DECIEM test on animals? ›

DECIEM does not test on animals and does not ask others to do so. DECIEM has been certified with the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval, a widely recognized standard for personal care and household products.

How much is The Ordinary worth? ›

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has agreed to buy a majority stake in Deciem, the parent company of popular skin care brand The Ordinary, at a $2.2 billion valuation.

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