The story of the jaguar and the snail

Dear Brandon—

Here is the journey of you and I. The story of the jaguar and the snail.

It was seven years ago when you burst into my life. I was working as the buyer at Boots and you were setting the world alight with your latest creation of Indeed Labs. From the moment you walked into Boots I was mesmerised and under your spell. Over the coming months, the highlight of my days was receiving your emails— the exceptional grammar, the charming tone, and the trademark signature, 'Smiles, Brandon’.

Your energy was boundless and I was hooked. DECIEM was born and I was firmly by your side. You made me your ‘Deputy’ then quickly your ‘Co’ and we became inseparable.

Startup life soon took over and was as exhilarating as I could have ever imagined. The pace was fast, the energy was infectious, the ideas were abundant, and the sleep was rare. You always said yes first, then found a way to make the impossible possible. We had sleepless nights in the factory working against the clock to get orders ready. Machines were bursting, Hand Chemistry tubes were exploding, Inhibitif was turning red. The startup years were very real but even through the challenges, after your initial rant, you would quickly find a solution and we would make everything ok again.

The world soon fell in love with your creations. You always said for a million people to like us, we first had to find a thousand people to love us. You certainly achieved this and so much more.

It never felt like work and we were never colleagues, as you made us all so vividly feel like your chosen family. Your sense of humour was second to none. Your favourite thing was getting bad photos of those you loved. I was once scanning through Facebook and suddenly saw a DECIEM advert with my awful photo on it. I knew you were clever but couldn't work out how on earth you had managed to get that to show on my phone. Surely you wouldn't have actually run a paid advert using a bad picture of me!? I opened my laptop, logged into our DECIEM account and sure enough, you were running a paid campaign. When I called, you couldn’t believe it had taken two days to reach me and proudly shared the audience figures that had been treated to the image. You were forever young, and life was always more fun with you in it.

For many years you were the company's travel agent. Even when we became bigger, you would still insist on booking all of the company’s travel. Frugal much of the time, you were an Amex loyalist who managed to book everything on air miles. We would enter hotels giggling and in our bubble. We lost count of the number of receptionists that looked baffled when we said two rooms. You made the same joke to them each time about how we were likely to fall out and need our space. For years The Delaunay called me “Mrs Truaxe”.

Your mind ran faster than anything, you knew so much about everything, yet had no idea of or interest in celebrities. One night, we were in the spa at The Corinthia hotel in London when some tall, well-built men with walkie talkies came down and circled the spa. “Strange” we commented. A few minutes later Jay Z and Beyonce entered the spa and subsequently got into the jacuzzi pool we were in. Of course, you could be the only human to be in the same water as Jay Z and Beyonce and have to ask me who they are and what they do.

You loved going to the same restaurants over and over again. If you had felt happiness in a specific place, eating a specific thing, you didn’t need any more. You would share these discoveries with us (and usually order for us) which meant we would always have the tastiest items on the menu. In an industry where people love kale, I’m so glad your favourite meal was fries with ketchup, Diet Coke with ice and finished with a Venchino and gelato.

You were a hundred miles an hour constantly and people used to ask if it was tiring spending so much time with you. But the reality was that I never felt more alive than when I was in your presence.

You were beautiful and loved beautiful things. You were the greatest entrepreneur I could have ever dreamed to meet in my lifetime. You were a visionary in everything you did. You were the best teacher we could have wished for and we loved you coaching us into the team you dreamed of. Everything you touched was destined for success, not only because of your genius, but because of your deep-rooted love for what you did, and for the people you did it with.

Whichever meeting we were in, I never stopped being amazed at how you could be the master in so many subjects. From design, to coding, to formulation, to legal— you simply excelled at it all. So many times I used to think you were simply too good to be true. You were the ultimate Super Human.

When you came up with the concept of The Ordinary, you humbly believed it would just be a talking point to really emphasise how advanced NIOD is. Little did you know that you had created something that was to change the beauty industry forever. You made great skincare accessible to all, started real conversations about ingredients and engaged and inspired a whole new audience to care for their skin.

You were deeply dedicated to our audience, giving them as much information as they desired. When you agreed to do a one hour Q & A on The Ordinary Facebook Group, you were inundated with questions. You spent 22 hours responding to every single one. This is just one tiny example of how you would always go above and beyond for anyone who needed you.

As The Ordinary started to sky rocket it became clear we were ready for a partner to support our journey. ELC came into the process at the 11th hour. You were sceptical that a corporate could ever be the right fit for us but after a few hours spent with them your mindset had shifted completely. They themselves, with Leonard at the top, are a family business, just on a different scale to DECIEM. They matched our energy, which blew you away, and it was clear that they cared deeply about our brands, our people and our future running independently. They were as mesmerised with your genius as us all.

Even as the team got bigger, your greatest happiness was in making us happy. You were generous with your time, demanding the best from us and giving so much back in return. You embraced every idea with "I love it" or "let’s definitely do it” before crafting our ideas into something we could feel proud of. You always made our whole team feel involved in building DECIEM.

When one of our team member’s Grandfather passed away, you were the first person they saw when they came into the office visibly upset that morning. You showed your usual rational approach and took control of the situation, taking them out of the office and to the cookie shop for breakfast. You sat them down and said, “You are sad, and your family is sad. I get it. But you need to think about your Grandfather — he is at peace now, wherever he is, and surely he isn’t thinking about you or your family. But if he were, he probably wouldn’t want you to be feeling sadness. Stop crying. Give me a hug and eat your cookie”.

You touched the lives of everyone you met and so many more through your creations. You have built the most incredible foundations to change our industry and to change the world. Those foundations will not be in vain.

We, your DECIEM family, will more than ever be committed to fulfilling your vision and ensuring that your legacy lives as bright as you for eternity. Authenticity, Integrity, Function, Design and Innovation are what you held close to your heart and are the values we will continue to keep at the heart of your DECIEM.

Brandon—
I love you so incredibly much.
Having you in my life was the greatest privilege.
We built the dream.
We lived the dream.

I never imagined we would be here without you.
I am broken. We are broken. 
But this is not the ending.

You changed our perspectives.
You changed our hearts.
You changed our world.

We will take care of your baby, DECIEM.

In the words you wrote to me once: I love you. We love you. You are ours. And we are lucky, proud and— more than anything— thankful that you are you.

Your caracol,

Nicola

The Abnormal Beauty Company