This week has been a devastating one in the cosmetics world. We have had to come to terms with the untimely passing of both Benefit Founder Jean Ann Ford, aged 71, and Deciem Founder Brandon Truaxe, aged just 40.
While Ford passed away following a battle with cancer, leaving behind a long legacy within the industry, Truaxe’s untimely death marks the end of a tumultuous period for the troubled cosmetics genius.
The circumstances surrounding the way Truaxe ended his life are still as yet unclear – Extra has reported that Truaxe either jumped or fell from this 32nd floor apartment in Toronto – but the news has sent shockwaves through the beauty market, with Deciem Acting CEO Nicola Kilner sending staff an email stating, “Brandon, our founder and friend. 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. Whilst we can’t imagine a world without you, we promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision. May you finally be at peace.”
Indeed, Kilner’s final sentence could relate to the timeline of altercations between the Deciem Founder and minority shareholder Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) last year. Such was the magnitude of the dispute that it culminated in Truaxe being forcibly removed from his position as CEO by a judge following Instagram posts stating he was shutting the company down. Likewise Kilner is likely alluding to Truaxe’s increasingly worrying social media posts uploaded in the lead up to his death.
However, despite Kilner’s heartfelt words, what has become apparent is that, along with an outpouring of grief by fans of both Truaxe and Deciem/The Ordinary, there is also an extreme amount of anger, and some of this seems to be directed at ELC.
While the company released a statement to speak of its ‘profound loss’ at Truaxe’s passing, it seems some fans are placing blame at the cosmetic giant’s door. And while taking to social media to air their upset about the chain of events leading up to his death, many fans have since told Instagram site @esteelaundry that ELC was deleting comments made on its page relating to the Truaxe, and more specifically the company’s treatment of him. Such is the extent of the upset, there has even reportedly been calls to boycott ELC and no longer purchase from the beauty behemoth.
However, I can’t help but feel this is a rare case where the customer isn’t always right. ELC entered into a business relationship with Truaxe, and while of course being kind and compassionate are key traits in both personal and business relationships, ELC wasn’t there to make friends. Truaxe’s mental health was clearly on the decline for months, a situation that ELC rightly had to distance itself from, being a Deciem shareholder and to put the company’s best interests first. Was the way in which it was handled correct? Only those within the situation can answer that. But given Truaxe’s increasingly erratic and unpredictable nature in 2018, it seems only right that the cosmetics giant took a course of action that protected its considerable financial assets. Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that Truaxe himself took a similar course of action, firing his good friend Kilner from her from as role as co-CEO with little explanation. Two wrongs of course don’t make a right, but its easy for consumers to fail to scratch beneath the surface and fail to think objectively following such devastating news as this.
So while it is a natural, knee-jerk reaction to want to lay blame at someone’s door, it’s not always directed in the right place. Of course, no one really knows what went on behind closed doors, and, no, ELC probably shouldn’t be deleting social media comments. But looking at it objectively, the company is between a rock and a hard place.
For now it seems the most appropriate course of action is rather than place blame and sling mud, it is to mourn the death of Brandon Truaxe. It’s time to celebrate his genius and acknowledge the achievements of a man that, after clearly suffering his own personal torment, died far too young.