Nothing about Brandon Truaxe or DECIEM is normal. With the tagline “The abnormal beauty company,” Brandon launched DECIEM, a Toronto-based company, to challenge innovation within the beauty industry by providing high-grade products that work and don’t cost a fortune.
Motivated by cynics who told him “you can’t do 10 things at once,” Brandon was set out to prove them wrong. First with the name DECIEM (Latin for 10 in a sequence), which in company lingo means “do 10 very ambitious things at once.” Then with the impressive launch of two products that followed DECIEM’s inception in 2013.
To date, they’re a $30 million annual business with more than 50 products sold in over 10,000 stores, spanning across 20 markets worldwide, all of which was achieved in three years. To put things into perspective, the factory they settled into a mere eight months ago is already too small. Their rapid growth has led to three moves in two and a half years. One would be wrong to categorize DECIEM as anything but abnormal.
Who is the man behind it all?
What’s a good story without the irony? Beauty was never on Brandon’s radar, and he had no patience for grooming rituals. At one point, he had to be convinced to trade in soap for shaving cream.
Born in England, Brandon moved to Toronto as a child and attended the University of Waterloo to pursue his passion for computer science.
So what happened? Brandon had a co-op term as a software developer at a major cosmetics laboratory in New York where he was tasked to analyze the company’s formulas for regulatory compliance. “They’d just launched a cream for $1,000 and I was making $200 a week, and I thought, ‘My God, what could be in this cream?’ ” he says.
In the computer world, where everything was either 0 or 1 (black or white), Brandon felt the world of beauty consisted of too many grey promises. “Quite bluntly, I became angry at the lack of integrity, transparency and insight in everything beauty.”
A combination of anger and passion fueled him to dream up his own version of the anti-establishment beauty brand.
What makes DECIEM abnormal?
Quality products at affordable prices
Some call it niche, some call it cult. Regardless of how you define it, the beauty industry has spoken and the multitude of brands by DECIEM has left its mark. Their high quality products at extremely affordable prices have become their main principle; delivering on “The abnormal beauty company” brand promise, while garnering popularity and praise amongst dermatologists and beauty gurus.
“Turning ‘Removes wrinkles’ to ‘Removes the appearance of wrinkles’ is confusing.” Disgusted by fluffy verbiage and fuzzy regulations that gave consumers no protection, Brandon refused to play that game. Instead, with simple packaging, the company’s products are named after their functionality, without the false hype.
Handled with care
With a big heart and bright moral compass, DECIEM also refuses to test on animals and does not pay others to do so. For this reason, none of their brands are sold in mainland China since such sales require animal testing for registration purposes.
Churns out innovations at a non-stop pace
Brandon puts its success down to a science, but also to speed. “The fastest we’ve moved to a product has been about four months,” he says. “The industry average is about 12 months.”
Initial momentum with startup success is a great feeling but that’s not all. Next comes scaling the company and that is not an easy thing to do. After recognizing he could no longer support DECIEM’s growth without outside support, the company started a formal process to raise funds a few months ago. “We always resisted raising outside financing to help us grow despite the many sleepless nights of worry – worry that we would not be able to pay our team on time; worry that we would not be able to meet capacity; worry that we would disappoint our audience; and ultimately worry that we would fail on our mission to do good things in the world of beauty.” Brandon wrote in an emotional letter to DECIEM loyalists.
Brandon and his team handled this process with true integrity and transparency to their supporters, reassuring them “that we would in no way give up control at the operational level, the directorship level or the shareholding level of decision making.”In the end, DECIEM partnered with The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC), who now has a minority shareholding position with the company. “Estée Lauder approached this investment in the most unexpected of manners and with more love than I could ever express in words,” Brandon says. “They embraced everything about us.”
Humbly asking supporters to trust his judgement in taking this very important step in DECIEM’s future, he says “I have thought about it extensively, I have evaluated all options and I have chosen this direction with extreme confidence that it will allow us to do more of what we do, to maintain our integrity and to continue to bring innovation to you and to the world.”
“Our team is always excited and energized because of fresh ideas, brands and products. In an industry like this, evolving passion in what you do is the only way to go.” Brandon’s vision for the next five years is focused on revolutionizing the industry. “If we have one goal as a group, it’s to add accountability to the beauty business. People assume it’s a scam, but the world evolves and things get better and better, and one day planes do fly,” he says. The future is ultimately the sum of all of the nows and without a doubt, DECIEM is making every second count when it comes to driving innovation and doing good, all while expanding the company’s footprint.
Thoughts on this article? Digging Brandon’s no-BS attitude or DECIEM’s abnormal approach to beauty products? I’d love to hear from you!