What On Earth Is Going On Over At The Ordinary?

CEO Brandon Truaxe has fired his closest staff members and gone massively rogue on social media

Is The Ordinary founder skincare’s Trump?

by Amel Mukhtar |
Updated on

There's something about the erratic behaviour of Brandon Truaxe, CEO turned Worker (after abandoning his original job title) of hyped skincare company Deciem, creators of the much-loved The Ordinary range, that can’t help but recall another high-profile and polarising figure.

Truaxe's fortunes have been playing out publicly on social media for the last few weeks, but an in-depth report by Racked at the end of last weekshed some light on just how chaotic life working for Truaxe at Deciem really is. And it all sounds kind of familiar. He sends erratic and insulting messages on social media – check - we've all seen those. He has made sure his company is now all about him – check. His organisation has been plagued by rumours of mayhem and chaos – check. He publicly insults former partners – check. He fires the high-ranking employees he was previously closest to – check. There are claims that the company has a culture of bullying - check. Anyone that disagrees with him is attacked or out of a job – allegedly so. Is there something in that Tru- prefix that makes you a tru- twat?

That said, the power battles and inner workings of life at Deciem feel far more complex and confusing than anything to come out of The White House in the last year or so. Take Truaxe's dealings with the ESHO range. In a since-deleted post, the 39-year-old announced dropping the ESHO range through the social media site, leaving Dr. Esho to find out at the same time as the rest of the planet. Though he apologised to Dr Esho and admitted that Deciem had rushed the product line, he also took the opportunity to mention how the public "hated" the products - which he himself had created.

Deleted Deciem Instagram post about dropping Dr. Esho

Racked reported that it’s because he ‘want[s] to live in this transparent world’ but that seems to come at the price of publicly humiliating others. How do consumers benefit from the “transparency” of publishing what was essentially the termination letter of a partner? And anyway, once the post received backlash, it was deleted. Clearly, transparency isn't such a hard and fast rule once it starts to negatively affect this founder.

Racked reports that he also fired his co-CEO Nicola Kilner, who he was seemingly close to, after she had a conversation with the Director of Operations, Shamin Mohamed Jr., about Truaxe’s mental health. Brandon lost faith in her loyalty and according to the HR director, was crying on the floor when he found out about it, then asked her to fire Kilner.

Stephen Kaplan, his CFO, left soon after. He wrote in his resignation email: “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.”

Quoting the article: ‘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 has a habit of hitting out against people that disagree with him using their personal qualities in a way that instantly evokes Trump. I mean, that shady bit of conjecture manages to call Kaplan old, unsuccessful and inferior and centres himself as a victim. The whole culture Kaplan describes sounds like Game of Thrones to be honest - pledge total fealty to the king or find yourself beheaded.

Truaxe said of his former employeees: “I don’t want to hurt them. I just want them to stop hurting me.” And he spoke about his attacks on fans with the same victimized tone. To quote Racked: “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.”

The ‘insults’ ranged from asking if he was okay (literally) to tagging Estee Lauder incorrectly in the hopes that they would check his jarring Instagram posts.

"From now on, we're going to be deleting any negative comments, unless it's constructive and useful criticism," he told the camera. "Despite my respect for you, you continue to be disrespectful on this account, so let me just remind you kindly that I've never deleted a post before because I wanted to be respectful to you but now I'm going to start changing things because I founded Deciem, so our social account is actually my property."

Truaxe also seemed to address the bad Glassdoor reviews in the Racked exclusive, saying “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.”

Wait a moment, is this ringing a bell? Who's that other guy, who distracts the public by saying things like 'look at my ratings' instead of addressing the problem at hand or answering the questions put to him?

We can't emphasise enough that despite these parallels in alleged behaviour, the differences between Truaxe and the 45th President are huge. Truaxe is on the record as being passionate about the environment and has banned plastics in his company. He wants to make needlessly expensive products affordable. He is at certain points profound, sensitive, and intelligent. Trump, on the other hand... well, you know the rest.

Is it possible that with Truaxe, like Trump, we're seeing someone in a position of significant personal power, grappling with their ego? Perhaps. Whatever the truth, people everywhere are concerned about the effect of Deciem's inner machinations on their supply of affordable hylauronic acid. Who can't empathise with that?

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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