I honestly didn’t know whether to write this post about Deciem’s founder Brandon Truaxe, and even if I did decide to write it, I had no idea really what it would say. Also, I felt kind of self-conscious that people would think I was trying to cling on to something that wasn’t mine, or jump on some kind of bandwagon that I didn’t belong to, or just generally be annoying about it. So I have hesitated and have thought about it for days. I have felt so sad but also felt that I wasn’t really allowed to be sad – because it wasn’t like we were best friends, but we did have a lovely relationship which was something I truly treasured.
And then so many nice people have reached out to me and said how sorry they were, and that they were thinking of me because they knew how fond I was of him. So I decided not to care about what other people thought, and just be true to myself, and my version and memories of Brandon Truaxe, which is my truth and very special to me.
I feel so honoured and lucky to have known him, and so privileged to be among the people he trusted. I was in his email contacts, even though that did mean I was privy to many emails that he later copied me and blind copied me into. Those were emails I didn’t understand and that made me feel really worried for him. But I don’t want to get into those because it really wasn’t my business. I feel guilty for not trying harder to understand those emails. But at the same time, it really wasn’t my place.
Once I wrote him a response to one of those emails that said I thought that he was loved and respected by the people that mattered within Deciem, but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He replied and told me off for meddling, whilst copying in every single Deciem employee! It kind of made me giggle because he was so sassy, and at that time I didn’t realise how bad things had got. But I knew not to be overly sentimental with him again. It wasn’t the last time I was copied in on an email, but it was the last time I replied because I realised that I had no idea what the right thing to say was. I wish I could have helped more.
In the beginning
But I want to go back to the beginning, the beautiful beginning in the summer of 2013 which marked a massive moment in my beauty career and the point where I became even more passionate about the industry that I already loved. So! I first met Brandon on a trip to New Orleans with Boots. It was when Nicola Kilner, now Deciem CEO, still worked for Boots and she had been working with Brandon Truaxe on what was then called Boots Latest Finds. She was utterly inspired by his genius and innovative vision. As was absolutely everyone he met.
What happened was that the flight to New Orleans was via Toronto, where Brandon (and Deciem) lived, and we had a stop over there for a few hours. We checked out of the airport and there was Brandon waiting for us in his sports car. Meeting him feels almost like a dream now. He was so vivacious, spoke so quickly and passionately, and made me feel like I would never run out of energy, ever! I knew instantly he was my kind of person. I’d imagine that if he wasn’t your kind of person, you could find him pretty exhausting. But I didn’t, he made me feel so hyped and excited and privileged to have fallen so perfectly into this space of the beauty industry.
We had lunch in a restaurant in what I think was a retail park not far from the airport, because we were too short on time to make it into town. It was amazing. I can’t remember what I ate, but I remember that the waiters had giant pepper grinders, like the size of a person! That totally added to the dream-like quality of this memory. It was crazy but still totally overshadowed by Brandon’s presence.
He drove us back to the airport and we continued our journey to New Orleans. After I got home I wrote about Inhibitif and Fountain, which were the first Deciem products. A few days later there was a knock at the door and standing there was a man in black tie holding a gift hamper from Brandon. It was full of chocolate and sweets and champagne and pink things and joy. I was absolutely thrilled.
Between the trip and the next time I saw Brandon, Nicola had joined Deciem and I was so happy about it. So was she. Brandon and Nicola were so great together – both so intelligent and passionate, with equal measures of kindness. And they literally lived in each other’s pockets for a very long time. Brandon loved Nicola, and Nicola loved him back, and together they did so much amazing work.
I met up with them both on several occasions and it was always easy to see what a genuine and productive relationship they had. They used to send me such cute emails together and always made me feel so valued. A couple of times, I was invited along to their team meals which Brandon made really entertaining. He said the things that no one else would say, true but totally inappropriate, and always hilarious. In fact, after one dinner in Shoreditch Dishoom he emailed and said,
Thanks for being so lovely as always! You’re really so comfortable to be around (which is why things that shouldn’t have come out of my mouth did!!! heheehe). Really can’t wait to see you again soon! Thanks for joining us for dinner <3
I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to sit at the Deciem table at the CEW Awards. Nicola was honoured by Brandon with the Achiever Award. He gave the most wonderful speech that demonstrated how much he valued her.
With Biggest Smiles
I had tonnes of emails from Brandon Truaxe over the years. He never failed to message and thank me for featuring one of the products. He even once emailed and asked if I would act as a reference for what he called ‘significant financing’. I’m not sure if this was actually the Lauder deal because it was 2015, because I was never contacted, although I did agree. How could I resist when he signed off the email,
‘I have always respected the role you have played online and it would really give me humble honour if you allow me to share your contact.
With my biggest smiles,
What an absolute charmer he was! Adored him.
But the most important email was the one he sent when my dad passed away early in 2016. It was so lovely to know that he was thinking of me. It said,
I am so so sorry about your dad :-(((( If there’s anything at all I or we can do, please know we are here.
This wasn’t the first email like this, as he was also in touch the year before when my cat died. He was extremely thoughtful and kind. I always had birthday emails too.
‘I had assumed, since you never age, that you don’t actually have a birthday but my intuition was off!
The last meeting
The last time I saw him was in London last year. It was nearly exactly a year ago from now, just after Nicola Kilner had been fired. This was tricky because I love Nicola and have a great friendship with her. But I wanted to see Brandon and the team. It was funny because, we were all settling down for a lovely lunch and Brandon was really excited about the Zuchini fries. He was joking that the last time he was there, his guest ate them all! Then he got an email about a meeting he’d forgotten and suddenly had to go!
He was half panicked, half amused and quipped that maybe he just wasn’t meant to have the Zuchini Fries! He said his quick goodbyes and off he went with music playing out of his rucksack with a happy walk and his head held high. We all turned around to watch him and everyone smiled. Because he was so funny and cute. I mean, utterly adorable. It was lovely to see. Just before he left, he invited me to go to Namibia to see how they harvested the nara oil, and I would have completely gone in a heartbeat. I feel sad that never happened.
Remembering Brandon Truaxe
That’s how I want to remember Brandon. With his musical rucksack and a happy walk, and a million magical words a minute. He is probably the most impressive person I have ever met in my life. I feel so lucky that I met him. The beauty world, and the world in general, is most certainly a poorer place without him. I feel heartbroken writing this post. His untimely passing was something I feared, but really not something I ever thought would happen. I had fantasies of him rising up and creating another unbelievable, amazing, game-changing brand, which he totally had the capacity to do.
Sadly, that wasn’t to be. We can only appreciate Brandon Truaxe’s brilliance and how he entirely changed the face of the beauty industry forever. No idea how to end this post, I don’t really want to end it at all.
With my biggest smiles (borrowed from a friend),
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