Perhaps you first heard of The Ordinary last spring when the skincare brand's $7 foundations racked up a 25,000 person waitlist ahead of their launch, you've spotted the straight-from-the-lab dropper bottles and tubes that the products are housed in on your Instagram feed, or you read that Kim Kardashian is a fan of the $10 retinoid anti-aging serum.
Skincare obsessives began talking last month when Truaxe started uploading transparent posts that, well, live up to the company's tagline "The Abnormal Beauty Brand." It all started on January 24th when he declared that he would be putting a stop to all of the company's marketing strategies for its 16 brands, declaring that "marketing is simply a way to convince people to buy things that they don’t want or don’t need." Instead, Truaxe said that he would be taking charge of the platform, which currently has over 337,000 followers.
The words in this video mean more to me than to anyone. I will talk to you beautiful people on our social channels from now on. I'll maintain an email subscription list and you can subscribe to it by simply sending an empty email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll share my thoughts that relate more to life than DECIEM on my own Instagram feed @btruaxe. We are all humans. We are not consumers, races, genders or sexualities. 🌎 Our social team won't respond to any comments on this post because I will respond to all of them personally. Please ask any order or product questions on another post or via DM so that I can commit time to this post. ❤️
Truaxe's initial post was met with positive reviews and the company's followers applauded his authenticity by leaving comments like "this is amazing! thank you for creating such an effective yet accessible brand," and "I love your brand, your transparency, your products, your commitment to quality, & your customer service!"
Over the next weeks, as Truaxe continued his stream of candid posts, he used the platform as an alternative to email by issuing instructions about corporate decisions to his staff and the company's suppliers.
On February 4th, Truaxe announced that the company would be making an effort to eliminate the use of all plastic in the brands shopping bags, droppers, and foundation bottles, which "cost more than glass bottles because they're made from 'sophisticated plastic'" with a photo of a landfill. In the post's caption he also names two employees and instructs them to relay this information to their suppliers. He also tells "Peter of Mong Packaging" that the brand won't be using their company anymore, but he's welcome to come work for Deciem.
I'll eliminate all plastic including our shopping bags, droppers, foundation bottles (which cost more than glass bottles because they're "sophisticated" plastic). Alessandro and Hajar, please tell our suppliers that this plan will complete by end of 2018. Peter of Mong Packaging, I'm sorry that we won't use plastic any more. You're such a good person. I'll sponsor you and your family to come to Canada if you want and you can work at DECIEM. Alan of Idealpak, this direction means more business for you ❤️🐴 (@apple please add a donkey emoticon because there's no horse in Morocco as far as I can tell). Sorry everyone that I'll repeat this note several times today with different videos. I love you, Brandon. (It's sunny here. ❤️🌕)
That same day, he also posted a photo of a young man standing against a wall, introducing him as Deciem's factory manager. “His youngest brother Omar is coming to Canada to join DECIEM. Astrid and @diafoley, Riad is not my boyfriend (I’m not gay). He’s my brother and I love him (and his beautiful mother who’s my mother)," Truaxe said in the post's caption.
Riad is our factory manager. His family adopted me when I needed help. His brothers Hashim and Faras run our US e-commerce. His other brother Ammar sells our products in Iraq, where they're from. His youngest brother Omar is coming to Canada to join DECIEM. Astrid and @diafoley, Riad is not my boyfriend (I'm not gay). He's my brother and I love him (and his beautiful mother who's my mother). Because of Estée Lauder's investment, I have been able to give the family a gift of $500,000 in January. They're building a home. And Riad is now travelling the world with me until March. I love you, Riad 🐘❤️🐪. Astrid, see you in Amsterdam to build my baby, Avestan. Our baby, Avestan. ❤️
As the new direction of the company's Instagram account progressed, fans began to worry over the future of Deciem and Truaxe's mental health. Reddit threads dedicated to the topic popped up, and fans began questioning whether or not they should stockpiling their favorite products from The Ordinary and the company's other brands in case the affordable skincare apocalypse is coming.
The drama escalated when Reddit users dug up past employees' reviews of working for Deciem from the company's Glassdoor profile in hopes of putting together what was going on with the company they turn to for affordable skincare products.
Since launching in August 2016, The Ordinary has become Deciem's best-selling brand, and nearly every product sold-out during its initial launch on Sephora.com this fall. The Toronto-based company was founded in 2013 and now has 16 skincare, haircare, and supplement brands under its umbrella, with three more on their way later this year according to co-CEO Nicola Kilner.
The breakout brand's foundation lies on offering skincare products based around familiar, tried-and-true ingredients that are known to work on common skincare issues, such as retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C, at affordable prices. Clinical white labels state the active ingredients in each treatment—which are all void of additives and fragrances.
What's unbelievable is the brand's prices which cap off at $15, with most products falling under the $10 range. Kilner tells us that she compares The Ordinary's price point philosophy to buying a bottle of aspirin at the pharmacy to relieve a headache. "You see a bottle for $5 or a bottle for $50, which one are you going to buy?" she asks.
Kilner chalks the products' low prices up to using quality ingredients that are widely manufactured around the world, along with foregoing traditional ad campaigns and marketing. "It's not the ingredients that make a product expensive," she says. "It's the packaging and actual manufacturing process that can drive up margins." That's why Deciem manufactures all of its products in-house at its Toronto factory.
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Rapid expansion—the brand is opening five more stores in New York this year and looking at other cities in the U.S., its second biggest market to the U.K.—has lead to fan-favorite products consistently selling out. Keeping the entire production process in the family is a major factor in why products are consistently out of stock. Kilner says that the company has outgrown its current factory and plans to move into a new 75,000-square-foot office and factory in Toronto this spring with hopes that they'll be able to catch up with the demand.
The brand knows that Truaxe's social media takeover is the current tea that fans and the beauty industry is sipping on, but insists that they have nothing to hide because they've always been transparent as a company, and will continue to be with Truaxe using Instagram as a platform to speak for himself. It's a continuation of an open, honest conversation about skincare that the brand has always hoped to have with its customers, and among fans on Reddit and Instagram. "We've always stated both the pros and cons of using each of our products on our site so that customers know exactly what to expect when using them," Kilner tells us. "
Controversy in the beauty industry is nothing new. Brands call each other out for copying each other's packaging, celebrities like Kylie Jenner have been accused of stealing Instagram makeup artists' work for their brand's own visuals, and the Instagram account @diet_prada is dedicated to putting fashion and beauty copycats on blast. What is unprecedented is Deciem's level of transparency and that it's coming directly from the company's CEO.
In 2018 it's becoming more and more clear the importance that brands come across as authentic to keep its customer and fan base, but how far is too far when it comes to being real?