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In just seven years DECIEM – the parent company to skincare brand The Ordinary – has flourished within the beauty industry. Overcoming challenges, the brand and its core values of teamwork and support has emerged stronger than ever
Starting a beauty brand from the ground up is never an easy task, let alone when you decide to launch 10 from the get-go. However, seven years after its 2013 launch DECIEM – which is Latin for 10 in a sequence – has become a force to be reckoned with in the beauty space, setting itself apart from day dot with its tagline: The Abnormal Beauty Company. While many believed the concept of the company would never work, DECIEM’s founder, Brandon Truaxe, was more than happy to prove people wrong, going against the grain.
Focusing on the consumer and being transparent with information set the company apart. “We simply did the right thing and waited for people to understand our dedication to science and transparency,” DECIEM’s CEO Nicola Kilner tells Emirates Woman. Which is exactly what happened. The continued efforts to generate an organic interest led to the launch of its crowning jewel The Ordinary in 2016, DECIEM began to reach new heights of popularity. “Our founder, Brandon shook up the industry by showing that quality could no longer be defined by price point,” Kilner explains. “He made it easier for people to know if they were overpaying for ingredients.” With a $7 (Dhs25) hyaluronic acid serum and a $6 (Dhs22) retinoid serum that both actually work, it’s an instant (quite literally) recipe for success. “For too long, brands had been disguising such ingredients as ingenuity,” Kilner explains. “The Ordinary was born to communicate with integrity. The innovation behind the brand is actually in its pricing and communication strategy.”
However, amongst all the praise and success came with it emerging erratic behaviour from Truaxe who fired co-founder Kilner in February 2018 and at one point claimed the company was temporarily shutting down. Five months later, he begged Kilner to return and despite being five months pregnant at the time, she was more than willing to help her friend who had built this incredible empire. “Although my contract had been terminated, I never really left DECIEM,” she explains. “I was in constant contact with the team and dedicated my time to ensuring that we could hold DECIEM in a good place for when Brandon’s health had improved. My decision to return was made out of love for Brandon, for DECIEM, and for our people. I hoped that by being by Brandon’s side, I could help to get things to a better place.”
But things came to a head in October 2018 when Truaxe was replaced as CEO by Kilner after a lawsuit with Estee Lauder, who owns a minor stake in DECIEM. Tragically just a few months later in January 2019, Truaxe passed away. However, Kilner has made sure her friend’s legacy stays intact and is ensuring his vision for the brand stayed alive. “The things that absolutely must never change are the values that Brandon instilled in us,” she explains. “The humility and playful spirit of our team is something that will always be at the heart of DECIEM.”
What did change, however, following Truaxe’s death was a focus on the wellbeing of the team, which took precedence above everything for Kilner. “My priority following Brandon’s passing was on our people, how could we create a stable environment and provide some of the structure that our difficult 2018 had not allowed us to grow into,” she says. “We worked to implement initiatives focused around the mental health of our employees, including dedicated mental health days and access to 24/7 independent counselling.”
Through the trials and tribulations, DECIEM has only gone from strength to strength, keeping Truaxe’s vision at their core and with Kilner’s leadership and the family-like atmosphere throughout the company, something which the CEO feels extremely “fortunate” for. “When faced with adverse situations, you become stronger, more resilient, and prepared,” she says. “We have been so fortunate with our people, especially those who have been part of the family from the beginning of DECIEM. They believed in Brandon’s genius and vision and wanted to be a part of DECIEM’s future.” The family mentality of the company and the team is what the late founder instilled in everyone, which helps them to go through “the challenges and grow stronger”, Kilner says.
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Grow stronger they have – DECIEM has just reached over one million followers on Instagram, all through the powerful brand driver that is the word of mouth. This largely has to do with the explosive popularity of The Ordinary, which funnily enough wasn’t even a part of DECIEM’s initial 10 brands at its launch in 2013. “The Ordinary was the 11th brand we launched – imagine if we stopped at ten,” Kilner jokes. It was always in the plan to umbrella 10 brands, because in the original vision was the idea of an ecosystem which could access everything from its own factory to its own PR department to its own design team and more. Of course, with the incredible success of The Ordinary with its accessible price points and well-researched ingredients, along with proven results, it’s only catapulted DECIEM’s other brands – including NIOD, Hylamide, The Chemistry Brand, Abnomaly and HIF (Hair Is Fabric) – into further success. For Kilner, NIOD is the dark horse of DECIEM as “it takes a very unique approach to skincare and promotes overall skin health”. “NIOD truly pushes the limits of science in skincare and brings true innovation to skincare,” she says. “The new technologies that NIOD uses are reflected in the price point. The formulas focus on longevity and overall skin health.” In particular, she recommends NIOD’s Copper Amino Isolate Serum truly focuses on longevity by encouraging the skin to act as though it were a younger skin. “If someone could only use one product from DECIEM, this would certainly be the one I would recommend,” she says.
As for the future of DECIEM, the only way is up. But Kilner doesn’t plan on changing much, she prefers for the company to stay in their own lane. “I think we need to continue to be who we are and to stay in our bubble,” she says. “When you pay too much attention to what other brands and the industry are doing you can lose sight of your why.” From the beginning, their focus has been the customer, innovation, transparency, function and design. However, what came later on was realising kindness was at its core. “It was certainly there from the start, but it took some time for us to understand that the innovation and transparency we were bringing to the industry was all driven by kindness.”
While DECIEM is staying in its own lane, could that potentially steer the company towards the UAE and the Middle East? “We are desperate to be there,” Kilner says. “It’s a really interesting space and an area that has been so essential to driving beauty forward. We really can’t wait to be a part of it.” You heard it here first, so watch this space.
DECIEM’s Hero Brands
the technology brand, which focuses on overall skin health, has a single genetic commitment to be at the very edge of science. Bringing a lab experience to its audience, by using only the very latest technologies, NIOD is focused on pushing the limits of science in skincare.
offers maximised minimalist skincare. The products within the brand simplify caring for skin without compromising on efficacy, by promoting optimum skin performance via multi-function formulas and simple regimens. Hylamide is a brand suited to those who are looking for quick results and those who do not have the time to spend researching ingredients.
The Chemistry Brand
allowed the company to introduce next-gen ingredients to their audience even under the restraint of a skincare non-compete. Many people were using The Chemistry Brand on their faces before DECIEM introduced skincare. The range offers advanced products for hands and body.
is unpredictable and its mission is to never be categorised. Abnomaly houses the products our lab create that don’t fit under a current DECIEM “brand”. As DECIEM evolves and grows, the brand will always remain in a state of flux.
HIF (Hair Is Fabric)
is a range of Cleansing Conditioners. HIF offers professional cleaning for hair, to ensure that its delicate fibres are treated like fabric. You wouldn’t put couture clothing in your washer. Is your hair less important?
For more on all things beauty, pick up a copy of June’s ‘The Beauty Issue’ or download it here.
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