Brandon Truaxe, the founder of the embattled skincare brand Deciem, has died, a company executive wrote in an e-mail to employees, which Vox separately confirmed. He was 40. WWD also reported that a source close to the brand said Truaxe died in Toronto, where Deciem is headquartered.
The acting CEO Nicola Kilner, whom Truaxe had publicly ousted from the brand early last year, before inviting her back as co-CEO in July, e-mailed Deciem employees to break the news: “I can’t believe I am typing these words. Brandon has passed away over the weekend. Heartbroken doesn’t come close to how I, and how I know many of you will be feeling,” she wrote, instructing “all offices, warehouses, factories and stores” to close on Monday in mourning. “We are all in disbelief and shock but I will be in touch again very soon,” she went on. “I love you all incredibly much, as did he.”
Truaxe, a onetime computer programmer, founded Deciem in 2013 in response to the high markups among most beauty brands, according to The New Yorker; he proceeded to launch 12 different lines under its umbrella, one of which was the radically transparent, affordable, and simple label the Ordinary, which inspired cult devotion. (Kim Kardashian West is a fan.) But last year, after he took over the brand’s Instagram, he began posting erratic and sometimes troubling posts to its feed: In an announcement that the brand would never test on animals, he posted an image of a dead sheep; in an apology to Drunk Elephant, a competitor, he referred to his own employees as monkeys. In October, a judge in Toronto granted Estée Lauder, a minority stakeholder in the brand, an injunction to remove Truaxe from his position, allowing Kilner to step in as sole CEO in the meantime, per Jezebel.
Truaxe’s posts on his personal Instagram were also uneven; he was an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and directed several captions to the president. He posted a series of four blurry videos from his home over the weekend, writing in a caption that he has “acquired a taste for Mezcal, the tequila,” and giving a tour of his penthouse apartment.
W has reached out to Deciem for comment and will update this post when more information is available.