Billion Dollar NIGHTMARE! The Tragedy Of A Billion $$ Beauty Business - Nicola Kilner, The Ordinary | Summary and Q&A

June 5, 2023
The Diary Of A CEO
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Billion Dollar NIGHTMARE! The Tragedy Of A Billion $$ Beauty Business - Nicola Kilner, The Ordinary


Nicola Kilner, co-founder and CEO of Deciem and The Ordinary, shares the tragic and inspiring story of building a successful skincare company and the personal struggles that came along with it.

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Key Insights

  • 🌟 Building a 2.2 Billion Dollar Empire:
  • Nicola Kilner built a successful empire with Deciem and The Ordinary.
  • She believed that entrepreneurship was the key to financial freedom.
  • Brandon Truaxe, co-founder of Deciem, transformed the company into one of the fastest-growing skincare companies in the world.
  • πŸ˜” The Tragic Story Unfolds:
  • Brandon's behavior drastically changed, losing warmth and exhibiting coldness in his eyes.
  • Nicola was pushed out of the company and later fired through abusive emails.
  • Brandon spiraled further, shutting down the entire company and eventually passing away.
  • 🌎 The Chilling and Heartbreaking Story:
  • The story of Deciem is both profound and heartbreaking, showcasing the rise and fall of a successful entrepreneur.
  • Brandon's struggle with mental health and addiction led to the tragic downfall of the business he help build.
  • Authenticity and self-awareness are essential for success.
  • Balancing work and personal life varies based on individual preferences and circumstances.
  • Building a strong team with complementary skills is vital for success.
  • Startups thrive on passion, collaboration, and the ability to pivot quickly.
  • πŸš€ The Breakout Year of The Ordinary:
  • The launch of The Ordinary in 2016 was a tremendous success, with high demand and constant product shortages.
  • The brand focused on transparency and affordable yet effective products.
  • The partnership with EstΓ©e Lauder Companies in 2017 further accelerated growth and valuation.
  • The Ordinary's success exceeded all expectations, with ongoing demand and international recognition.
  • Nicola and Brandon had complementary skills and a strong bond at the beginning.
  • Their unique partnership allowed them to build a successful company with shared values and goals.
  • However, Brandon's mental health struggles and personality changes strained their relationship.
  • πŸ“ˆ Scaling Challenges and Cultural Shift:
  • Rapid growth comes with scaling challenges, necessitating a shift in organizational structure and culture.
  • Maintaining a startup's culture as it scales can be challenging but crucial for success.
  • Balancing high performance and kindness are key aspects of building a successful company culture.
  • 🀝 Family Culture and Kindness:
  • Deciem emphasized a family-like work culture, prioritizing a sense of belonging and support.
  • Being kind and compassionate while maintaining high performance can lead to a motivated and engaged team.
  • Balancing kindness and tough decisions, such as terminations, ensures the well-being of both individuals and the organization.
  • Brandon's experimentation with psychedelics and mental health challenges triggered a rapid decline in his behavior.
  • He became unpredictable, cold, and detached, leading to a breakdown in relationships and business decisions.
  • His mental health deteriorated further, resulting in multiple institutionalizations.
  • πŸŒ€ Imposter Syndrome and Self-awareness:
  • Nicola faced imposter syndrome due to her perceived lack of qualifications as a CEO.
  • Self-awareness and acknowledging strengths and weaknesses are crucial for authenticity and effective leadership.
  • πŸ“‰ Decline and Loss of Hope:
  • Brandon's condition worsened despite multiple institutionalizations.
  • Nicola's pregnancy added to the emotional turmoil, as she tried to support Brandon while facing abusive emails and business challenges.
  • The helpless situation of struggling with mental health and addiction is heart-wrenching for both the individual and their loved ones.
  • ❀️ The Power of Love and Support:
  • Despite the challenges, Nicola's love, empathy, and willingness to help shine through.
  • Her efforts to understand and support Brandon exemplify the strength in difficult times.
  • The story showcases the delicate balance between success, mental health, and personal well-being.
  • It emphasizes the importance of seeking support, maintaining self-awareness, and prioritizing mental health in the business world.


just a tragic story and a tragic ending it's hard to say if it's regrets but is there anything different we could have done Nicola Kilner co-founder and CEO of decim and the ordinary this is the unthinkable inspirational and tragic story of how she built a 2.2 Billion Dollar Empire I always just had this feeling that the only way to Achieve Financi... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the success of The Ordinary impact both the company and its co-founders?

The success of The Ordinary led to significant changes within the company, including a shift in behavior from co-founder Brandon and increased pressure and responsibilities for Nicola as the CEO. The success also brought personal and professional challenges for both co-founders.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Nicola Kilner, CEO of Deciem and The Ordinary, shares the incredible journey of building a $2.2 billion dollar empire.

  • The Ordinary, a skincare brand, experienced exponential growth and success almost overnight, but it also led to changes in behavior and mental health challenges for co-founder Brandon.

  • Nicola's role as CEO shifted as the company grew, and she had to navigate the balance between building a successful business and dealing with personal and professional challenges.

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