Brandon Truaxe, the controversial founder of the beauty brand Deciem who was ousted as chief executive just months ago, has reportedly died. He was 40.
Deciem’s acting chief executive Nicola Kilner wrote an email to the company’s staff on Monday confirming that Truaxe had died over the weekend, according to Vox Media, which reviewed the email and published it on Monday. She did not disclose his cause of death.
“I can’t believe I am typing these words. Brandon has passed away over the weekend,” Kilner wrote.
“Heartbroken doesn’t come close to how I, and how I know many of you will be feeling”
Kilner continued the email urging all offices, warehouses, factories and stores to close Monday “and take the time to cry with sadness, smile at the good times we had, reflect on what his genius built and hug your loved ones a little harder.”
Described by many as a creative genius, the computer programmer turned beauty executive founded the Toronto-based company in 2013. Deciem confirmed the death of its founder in a post on Instagram.
“You touched our hearts, inspired our minds and made us believe that anything is possible. Thank you for every laugh, every learning and every moment of your genius,” the post said.
“Whilst we can’t imagine a world without you, we can promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision. May you finally be at peace.”
Known for its tagline, the “Abnormal Beauty Company”, Truaxe promised Deciem would be transparent and deliver products that worked better than designer brands, at affordable prices. Deciem, particularly its affordable “The Ordinary” line, quickly surged in popularity, catching the eye of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. The company became a minority investor in Deciem in 2017.
In a letter about the partnership, Truaxe described Estée Lauder as approaching the investment “with more love than I could express in words.” He offered assurances that the partnership would empower the brand, and not dictate the decisions or directions of the company.
“Deciem is our baby – and we have raised this very special baby together with you. I will never let anyone mistreat our baby,” Truaxe wrote.
But the partnership became increasingly fraught as Truaxe’s behaviour became more erratic. Throughout 2018, he frequently took over the company’s Instagram account, often confounding followers of the beauty brand, and sometimes enraging them.
Then, in October, Truaxe posted an Instagram video announcing that he would be shutting down operations of the popular company, alleging that “almost everyone” that worked there had been involved in major criminal activities, including financial crimes.
“You have no idea what a soldier I have been for 13 years,” he said in the post.
Truaxe’s abrupt behaviour prompted Estée Lauder to push for his removal from the company through a court application.
In the application, Estée Lauder said its fight to oust Truaxe was fuelled by hundreds of “outrageous, disturbing, defamatory, and/or offensive posts” he made on Deciem’s social media pages over the last year that “harmed” the business and its reputation. A judge approved the application.
Truaxe posted several videos on Instagram on Saturday from his apartment in Toronto’s Distillery District. In the last video posted to his account, he begins by addressing “Mr. President” and saying “you said your country absolutely has to be prioritized first.” Wandering the apartment in a white turtleneck, he discloses the address of his home, discusses the elevator, calling the fire department and art installations in his neighbourhood.
“Everything is okay,” he said in the video.
“I want everyone just to learn, if they are worried about something – not worried, if they suspect something is strange, as the airport authorities say, if it’s suspicious, tell someone. I love you.”
With files from the Canadian Press.