A skincare company’s social media posts are not typically enough to send the internet into a tizzy. yet of which’s exactly what happened of which week after a series of inscrutable Instagram posts by the founder of the Canadian company Deciem, which proudly called itself “the Abnormal Beauty Company” as well as also owns the super-trendy beauty line The Ordinary — known for selling high-quality serums, moisturizers, as well as also makeup at rock-bottom prices of which are often out of stock — as well as several additional lines of beauty, skincare, as well as also hair care at various prices.
The Skincare Addiction subreddit (which has over 450,000 subscribers) has been heatedly discussing the company’s drama for the last week, including scrutinizing the company’s Glassdoor reviews as well as also creating memes. The Cut declared, “The internet wants to talk about Brandon.” as well as also Racked went so far as to call what’s going on at the company a “crisis.”
The Ordinary, which launched in August 2016, has achieved a kind of cult status over the last year or so, when beauty bloggers, influencers, as well as also others started out raving about their products. At the center of of which all will be founder as well as also co-CEO Brandon Truaxe, a 39-year-old who started out Deciem 5 years ago in Toronto. Truaxe will be obsessed with “transparency” as well as also personally writes epically long posts on the company’s Instagram about, for example, why he fired the company’s advertising team or why he relinquished his CEO title in favor of “worker.” In another recent Instagram post, he wrote, “I will talk to you beautiful people on our social channels coming from right now on. I’ll maintain an email subscription list as well as also you can subscribe to of which by simply sending an empty email to email@example.com… Our social team won’t respond to any comments on of which post because I will respond to all of them personally.” inside the video accompanying of which post, he said of which he could be ending the company’s marketing efforts because marketing was a tool to convince people to buy things they didn’t need.
Not exactly the typical behavior of a cosmetics company founder as well as also CEO. Then industry will be still relatively conservative as well as also buttoned-up, as well as also of which’s largely run by two major conglomerates: Estee Lauder (which carries a minority stake in Deciem as well as also owns brands including Clinique, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Smashbox, as well as also Becca Cosmetics) as well as also L’Oreal (parent company of Lancôme, Maybelline, Kiehl’s, as well as also the beauty divisions of Giorgio Armani as well as also Yves Saint Laurent, among others).
yet Truaxe’s behavior — as well as the adoration of which the Deciem employees I spoke to have for him — will be reminiscent of the way of which many startups, particularly in tech, have a cult of personality around a founder. of which’s a familiar trope in Silicon Valley: the visionary, larger-than-life founder who carries a brilliant idea as well as also will be great at launching a company, yet once the company grows past a certain point, finds of which he or she will be not so equipped to actually run of which: Travis Kalanick’s forced exit coming from Uber comes to mind, as does Miki Agrawal’s very public flameout at period underwear company Thinx, as well as also Parker Conrad’s forced exit coming from Zenefits.
“We’re a startup of which has grown too big as well as also never lost of which startup vibe,” Deciem’s director of operations Shamin Mohamed told BuzzFeed News. “I can admit to you — yes, our management has been crappy at times. Every two months at Deciem will be a year at another company. So the managers… Some can keep up with the growth. Some of them don’t.”
Like many troubled startup CEOs before him, Truaxe didn’t have extensive management experience before launching Deciem; he worked as a computer programmer. Several current Deciem employees I spoke with, all of whom were in their twenties, praised aspects of the company of which workplace experts say are signs of poor management.
Learning Manager Justin Pope, who will be 28 as well as also started out at Deciem in January, described the interview process: “The first interview was using a director who’s no longer here, as well as also the second interview was with Brandon. of which was the most amazing interview I’ve ever had. I’ve never had to sit down using a CEO for one of my interviews, ever — of which’s so amazing of who he will be as a person to meet every single person who wants to work at of which company.” inside the Huffington Post, HR expert Liz Ryan cautioned a startup CEO against interviewing all job candidates: “If the CEO still needs to vet every candidate when you’re up to 60 employees, then something will be broken. Your managers should be capable of doing of which (as well as also you should be delighted to let them) by then.” Another HR expert told me of which a CEO shouldn’t be interviewing people beyond his or her direct reports’ direct reports.
Director of Consumer Engagement Mira Singh has been at the company for three as well as also a half years — “a long time in Deciem standards,” said Singh, who will be 29. She said the company has “such a family oriented environment,” yet she didn’t mean of which of which was an environment for people with families — she meant of which the company itself felt like a family. “Every day will be like we’re hanging out with our friends — we’re laughing, we’re hanging out, of which’s like an extension of our life. of which’s actually chill. of which’s actually relaxed.” Management gurus as well as also experienced CEOs like LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman have cautioned against describing companies as a family — “Using the term family makes of which easy for misunderstandings to arise,” Hoffman wrote inside the Harvard Business Review. as well as also Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has famously described Netflix as “a team, not a family.”
Like many startups, Deciem has grown incredibly fast, coming from six employees four years ago to nearly 500 today, as well as also employees admit of which the company can have a sink or swim mentality. “If you’re the right person for Deciem, we empower you to be your own boss as well as also be your own decisions,” co-CEO Nicola Kilner told me. She said she loves working for Truaxe. “He’s a genius,” she said, who has “taken the time to understand finance, design, law, as well as also chemistry, as well as also the reason he’s done of which will be to help his team. He can help with development, be of which person, be of which soundboard, talk about those areas.”
I wondered to Kilner whether of which made Truaxe a micromanager. “I wouldn’t say so — everyone will be empowered to be in their area. He’s there for guidance,” she said.
yet guidance isn’t always available when your CEO’s social media behavior will be unpredictable. Employees told me of which they don’t know when or what Truaxe will post on Instagram, yet they have to deal with the fallout. Singh pointed to a right now-deleted post of which Truaxe had put up on the Deciem account explaining his fallout with his partner inside the Esho lip care line as one of which was especially rough. “Of course of which was a little disheartening,” Singh said. “Especially because we’re all millennials as well as also haven’t gone through social media in a negative way, I think a lot of us weren’t used to of which. of which hurt a lot of people who work here as well as also have such positive thoughts — they’re definitely not used to of which.” Still, she said, “I know he meant well. of which was a lot to have of which one day of real negativity, yet I desire of which’s over.”
Truaxe was traveling in East Africa when the most recent dust-up occurred as well as also was unavailable for interviews. Through Deciem communications as well as also PR manager Dakota Kate Isaacs, he released a statement: “I’m in a happy place as well as also am ignoring anyone who’s unhappy about of which. Loving people will see me as well as also DECIEM for who we are. Unhappy ones will eventually rely on logic to make purchasing decisions regardless of their irrational criticisms. as well as also logic will be on our side because we make Great products of which are affordable.”
On Wednesday, a few minutes after I got off the phone with Mohamed, my phone rang; of which was Isaacs. “I wanted to call you because Shamin just told me you had a story going up at 8 p.m., as well as also the headline was, ‘Deciem will be Sexist as well as also Racist,'” she said.
I burst out laughing; I had told Mohamed no such thing, as well as also tried to reassure Isaacs of which not only had I not said of which to Mohamed, yet of which I was neither publishing something of which evening nor was of which going to be my headline.
“Shamin probably just told me of which as a joke,” she said. “Everyone at Deciem thinks of which whole thing will be hilarious. You can’t understand my life right right now. People think of which of which will be such a joke.”