The dewy and hydrated skincare-adjacent drama continues apace at Deciem, the company that makes cheap and effective serums and potions, thanks to CEO Brandon Truaxe’s insistence on running the company’s official Instagram account and using it to air petty grievances.
In February, fans of both cheap niancinamide serums and public displays of messiness started noticing that the brand’s Instagram was often taken over by selfies and strangely intimate video confessionals from Truaxe—an interesting tactic that has unfortunately backfired. He abruptly fired Nicola Kilner, his co-CEO and cut ties with lip-care brand Esho via Instagram. Last week, Truaxe posted a photo of a homeless person sitting outside a storefront on Fifth Avenue and told Racked that he took the photo and posted it out of love, saying that the homeless person was “disrespectful to the beauty of Fifth Avenue. But he was so peaceful. He was just reading his book, which homeless people should do more of.”
Truaxe also warned that big changes or an announcement was coming, making the weekend particularly difficult for his social media staff. True to his word, three new products were announced via Instagram: a newer version of their popular “Buffet” serum, now featuring 1 percent copper peptide; a sea buckthorn oil; and a borage seed oil. In between these perfectly normal social media posts were two screenshots of articles written on CosmeticsBusiness.com about Truaxe’s behavior with paragraph-long rebuttals in the captions.
This isn’t the best look, but considering Truaxe’s social media strategy, it’s par for the course. What is a little more juicy is Truaxe’s response to the interview former co-CEO Nicola Kilner did with Elle’s Carrie Battan, published Friday. In the interview, Kilner seems sad about being pushed out of a job she really loved against her will. The work environment Kilner describes sounds very much like a tech start-up—rapid growth, a charismatic leader, many employees with “passion” under the age of 35—and Kilner’s time there sounds like she was the closest thing to an adult that the company really had. Truaxe is the public face of the company and Kilner, up until recently, kept everything under control behind the scenes, managing the business as well as the fallout from her co-CEO’s behavior.
Despite the very obvious hell Kilner has been through with this company, it seems that she’s still recovering. From Elle:
Talking to Kilner is a bit like talking to someone rescued from a cult against her will. She is unflagging about the quality of Deciem’s products, recommending various items to me. Her husband tells me that he uses the products religiously, and he follows along with a 33,000-member Facebook group tracking the company’s every move. “I’m obsessed,” he confesses at the bar at Lone Star. Occasionally, during our conversation, Kilner will refer to [Sam] Reddington as her husband, before clarifying that he’s her “real” husband, in contrast to the marriage-like closeness she held with Truaxe. Eerily, Truaxe and Reddington share the same birthday.
Here’s Truaxe’s response to what is by all accounts a measured and deferential article.
Shamin, for those keeping track, is Shamin Mohamed, Deciem’s director of operations, with whom Kilner reportedly had a conversation about Truaxe’s mental health. Truaxe caught wind of this and fired her—a narrative confirmed by emails forwarded to Racked in February and refuted now by Truaxe in this Instagram post. More questions than answers here, truly, but my main query is this: what’s the deal with Dr. Tijon Esho? What else is there to know besides what we already do and when will we find out?