Though a young brand, DECIEM has left a lasting impression on the beauty industry, having developed a cult following around the world, from magazine editors to bloggers, and digital influencers alike. In fact, it seems like the company’s following is ever increasing. It is no wonder then, that beauty giant Estee Lauder, took an interest in the young company as an investor earlier this year. One of it’s product lines, The Ordinary, is frequently mentioned in beauty articles and often revered by beauty fans.
I recently chatted with the company’s Founder and CEO, Brandon Truaxe, in a quest to find out how exactly they did it.
Brandon, DECIEM has become so big, so fast. Congratulations on all of your success, but I have to ask, how did you make it happen?
[Laughs] Thank you. I mean, it really was step by step, sort of baby steps. I think committing to just doing what you think is a good thing, and then forgetting about how big it is, and how big it might be, is just the easiest thing to do and the world starts to slowly recognize it. So, yes you need a bit of luck and you need a bit of being in the right place, but ultimately, I think you just have to commit to that one thing. I think the other thing that has been a fundamental aspect of what has gotten us here I think, – and this is a post observation, we didn’t plan it this way – is that distribution has always been a little bit behind our demand and that has made life a lot easier, in the sense that the audience has actually built the communication for us.
It’s like building that desire, right? The less access to something you have, the more you want it.
Exactly! And so the audience built that demand, which was a self-fulfilling prophecy of our growth and how we got here.
So far what has been your best selling product?
It’s really difficult to say because there are like 40 products that sell really well and those 40 are currently out of stock. Basically all of our customer service is shut down because we just became bombarded. We have about 300 products now, so the 40 are probably the top selling, like from the Ordinary AHA 30%, NIOD Copper Amino Acid, which has been out of stock for about 2 weeks now. Basically the company is going through hell, it’s a disaster.
And there has been various iterations of the products. I know from The Ordinary line, there’s the Vitamin C suspension that’s now in silicone.
Yeah, the vitamin C one, because basically everyone complained that it was gritty. If you have a suspension of vitamin c, either you have to hide the grit or you’re gonna feel it. Silicone hides the grit but hinders the absorption a little bit. People started comparing our brands with others and so we said, instead of changing ours, we’re going to introduce silicone as the new choice. And I think the audience loves that education, loves learning about it, and seeing that you’re responding, which is a good thing as well.
How are you communicating to customers right now, because you said that the brand sort of grew on it’s own, without any marketing effort.
I mean, it’s not so much without any marketing, because today anything can be marketing. What we don’t do is, instead of putting up a sign that tells you to buy something, we just try to state the facts and allow you to make your own decision on purchasing. Ultimately, one is easier to do because as humans, if I trust someone, but that person starts selling something to me, I’m going to start thinking that they’re a crook. So the best thing to do is to never position a sales culture.
So how are we communicating, social media obviously is a really big thing, but its not just what we communicate on social media, but what our audience communicate to others as well. That has actually been a much bigger thing for us because it’s beyond our control. Then a lot of in-store education. Our own store has been fundamental to allowing the customer to talk to us, to touch us, all the things around it, but yeah, it means being more education focused, as opposed to sales focused.
I’m curious about what has been most successful for you guys, in terms of media and conversions. Has it been traditional media, which includes print, or has it been digital media, like the bloggers and other people who communicate via social media or other digital platforms.
Well, you know, it’s interesting. We’ve had a combination of both and in markets like the UK, print media is actually still quite valuable. In the US, less and less people actually pay attention to what print media has to say, at large. Bloggers have been a huge force, no question about it. But the real influence, has come from just real people. People talking about it has been great, because there is a tremendous amount of genuineness. Even if each individual has less following, there are just so many of them and that adds up.
There’s something interesting about the packaging of the products too, it almost seems clinical, but in a good way. It feels like, maybe this is something a doctor would prescribe and maybe I should buy it over this other product that has beautiful packaging, and you can see how much effort that the brand put into its design. Was that intentional?
[Laughs] Well no. Actually, you said that now and I don’t think I have ever heard that before, but when I quickly reflected on it, all we did was to make it very simple. Because everybody else in this category has made it very not simple, just that contrast makes you think that maybe this is something that a doctor would prescribe, but really it’s simplicity. We basically just grabbed the white background and put the name on it and communicated what it is. That was intentional but we didn’t set out to make it look like a medical brand, because in fact, the area that has been criticized the most has been doctor brands. They position themselves to be more special, but then they’re the same technology or worse in some cases.
Final question, I know you have to go. Your skin looks amazing and I want it, what is your everyday skin care routine.
[laughs] You want my skin, so you want to be older? I’ll tell you what, we can make a deal. I’ll give you my skin, for some of your height. My routine, and again, we didn’t make it a best for everybody, because it’s about being mindful of what your skin needs, which changes all the time. At the core of it, there’s NIOD Copper which I always use. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizer, The Ordinary EUK 134 is a big part of it, and those are just products that I love. But that’s just me. There are some I would recommend for everybody, but ultimately, you have to be mindful of your skin. And also, because I’m in the lab 30% of my time, I’m constantly trying every product that DECIEM launches, even if I don’t believe in it, I would actually be a user of it and evaluate it.
Editor’s note: An original version of this article stated that “the area that has been criticized the most has been Dr. Brandt,” but should have been “doctor brands instead of Dr. Brandt.” Additionally, the original article misstated that Silicone helps the absorption of the grit in the Vitamin C suspension, but should have been “hinders the absorption.” Both changes have been updated.