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Your Favorite Cheap Skincare Brand Is Having a Rough Week

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Inside the Deciem Firings and Resignations
Skincare products

After a few quiet weeks, beauty company Deciem finds itself back in the spotlight. Yesterday Racked broke the news that the company, which owns popular skincare brand The Ordinary, had lost co-CEO Nicola Kilner and CFO Stephen Kaplan. This came a few weeks after a period of intense scrutiny of founder Brandon Truaxe, whose increasingly erratic-appearing behavior on Instagram concerned fans of the brand. Stories from former employees then emerged, painting a picture of some chaos behind the scenes at the company as well.

Truaxe has since confirmed that Kilner was indeed fired and that CFO Stephen Kaplan, who had been with the company for less than a year, had resigned. Truaxe forwarded several internal Deciem emails to Racked, including information about the inner financial workings of the company and conversations with employees. In one email to Racked, he said the goal in sending these was “transparency,” and in another, he wrote: “There’s no trouble at Deciem. We are exploding, our customers love us, and the drama media is creating will eventually die off and be discredited to your disadvantage.”

One shared email exchange was with Dr. Tijion Esho, the London-based cosmetic doctor who launched a lipcare line, called Esho, with Deciem. In a now-deleted Instagram post that arguably garnered Deciem and Truaxe the most online backlash during a week of heightened publicity, Truaxe ended his company’s relationship with Esho and said he was going to return the Esho brand’s trademarks. In an email, Truaxe told Esho he had to do it publicly, writing, “My partners would have never allowed me to freely give you this trademark after our investment to register it and develop the range.” In an exchange dated a few weeks later, Esho stated, “I think that I’m allowed to feel frustrated and upset,” and Truaxe responded, “You’re being very mean to me despite my explanation to you…”

In a statement provided to Racked by Esho’s representative, he said that he had been working with Kilner to recover his trademark and product formulations. Since her departure from the company two days ago, Esho notes a timeline is now “unconfirmed” and the fate of the line “undecided.” He hopes to still meet with Truaxe (who was in London this week, although Esho said that due to scheduling difficulties, a meeting was impossible) “to close this chapter.” He also wrote, in response to emails he received from Deciem employees, “I extended my gratitude and admiration for the individuals in the Deciem team. They showed me a lot of support and believed in me so I continue to be extremely grateful to that.”

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Madewell Is Coming to Some J.Crew Stores
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Over the last few years, the narrative surrounding sister brands Madewell and J.Crew has been a lot like A Tale of Two Cities: While the former thrives, the latter is seeing the worst of times. J.Crew is struggling to reinvent itself amid slumping sales, while Madewell quietly enjoys a dedicated fanbase — and the two companies have been operating as such for several years.

Now, J.Crew and Madewell are leaning on each other in the hopes of coming out ahead.

The brands will join together in stores, Madewell confirmed to Racked, starting with six Madewell shops-in-shops that will open in existing J.Crew stores. The locations — New York City (Columbus Circle), Florida (Tampa and Aventura), Iowa (West Des Moines), New Hampshire (Hanover), and Connecticut (New Haven) — are what Madewell says it’s focused on for now, but it could put more Madewells into other J.Crew locations, too. At these new Madewell shops-in-shops, the company says it will roll out some of Madewell’s branding, such as denim bars. It also says the Madewells will stock clothing that complement the assortment at J.Crew.

Up until now, J.Crew and Madewell have existed as entirely different retail experiences, but the move seems like a good play for both brands. J.Crew, the portfolio’s more visible company, is a household name to the average American shopper. But saddled with debt and waning customer interest, J.Crew has struggled to keep up in the face of threats like fast fashion. Last year the brand took several swings at obtaining a fresh identity. It had mass layoffs and price cuts, and even said goodbye to iconic and beloved executives Jenna Lyons and Mickey Drexler. But attempts haven’t blossomed into fruition just yet: In November, the company reported its sales had dropped 12 percent, and that it had to close twice as many stores as it had initially shared in order to weather the storm. 

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