The Daily Visionary: Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Founder of Canadian cult-status skincare brand Deciem is found dead months after being ousted from the company

 

The Story

 

Brandon Truaxe, born Ali Roshan in Iran, who founded the Canadian skincare company Deciem, has been found dead at age 40 following increasingly erratic behavior on social media over the past year and his subsequent oust from the company. Mr. Truaxe was one of the first to champion radical transparency in the beauty industry, and to build a multi-brand, fast-moving, vertically integrated business with the concept of affordable luxury at its core.

 

In October 2018, Mr. Truaxe posted to social media that he was closing all of its stores, citing alleged employee involvement in a "major criminal activity." Further details about his claims have yet to be revealed, but a court recently appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate the allegations.

 

To protect its investment, Estee Lauder, which acquired a 28 percent minority stake in the company in 2017 (the only shareholder aside from Mr. Truaxe and friend Pasquale Cusano, an owner and manager of high-end jewellery stores in British Columbia), headed to court twice in October, landing court orders removing Mr. Truaxe as the company's chief executive officer, requiring him to stay away from Deciem properties and employees, and reopening the stores. Estee Lauder said its actions were prompted by hundreds of "outrageous, disturbing, defamatory, and/or offensive posts on Deciem's social media accounts" and a profane email it claimed Mr. Truaxe sent to Estee Lauder's founder, saying he would soon be in his hometown and predicting the demise of Estee Lauder and the Lauder family.

 

Nicola Kilner, who had been with Deciem since the year of its creation and whom Mr. Truaxe had fired as his erratic behaviour increased, but later brought back, was appointed acting CEO. Mr. Truaxe was hospitalized for mental health issues and believed to have also had problems with drug use. Court papers show that on May 9, Mr. Truaxe was detained by authorities in the U.K. and taken to a psychiatric hospital in London for several days, and later stayed at another psychiatric facility in Canada for three days.

 

The Details

 

  • Mr. Truaxe last posted on Instagram Saturday from his penthouse in Toronto, giving out his home address at 33 Mill Street.

  • A cause of death was not released, but a spokeswoman for the Toronto Police said that the department responded to a call at 1:30 p.m. Sunday about a “jumper” at the intersection of Mill Street and Parliament Street, where a body was found. The spokeswoman said she was not able to confirm a name because the incident was not considered suspicious.

  • Deciem’s approximately 30 stores around the globe were closed Monday.

Background

 

Mr. Truaxe’s belief was luxury was not about price. Deciem was founded in Toronto in 2013, and Mr. Truaxe called it the "Abnormal Beauty Company", with multiple product lines under the brand’s umbrella. Its most famous line, The Ordinary, came from Mr. Truaxe's vision of it as the antithesis of most skincare brands – its products come in plain white packaging with scientific, technical names complete with detailed ingredient information on the website, and price tags much cheaper than rivals, often below $10. The Ordinary acquired a cult following with products that included a $7 foundation earning rave reviews and a 25,000-person wait list in 2017. Touted by celebrity influencer Kim Kardashian West, Deciem was reportedly on track to make $300 million in sales last year.

 

Key Quotes

 

The thing about luxury, when I say it’s not about price points, what I mean is it doesn’t matter if it’s cheap, expensive, affordable, not affordable — luxury ultimately has to exclude one thing — and that is being taken for an idiot. Like, love this atmosphere, hate this coffee. It is horrific, it is actually one of the worst coffees I’ve ever had in my life. But you’re not fooling me — I’m accepting that I’m basically paying rent for the environment,” said Mr. Truaxe in a 2017 interview at the New York Plaza Hotel.

 

"You touched our hearts, inspired our minds and made us believe that anything is possible. Thank you for every laugh, every learning and every moment of your genius," the post said. "Whilst we can't imagine a world without you, we promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision. May you finally be at peace. Love, (forever) your Deciem," said Stephen Kaplan, Deciem’s Chief Operating Officer.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the biggest gun rights case since 2010

 

The Story

 

The U.S. Supreme Court took up its biggest gun rights case in nearly a decade, agreeing to hear a challenge backed by the influential National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby group to New York City’s strict limits on handgun owners transporting their firearms outside of the home. The nine justices, where Republicans currently comprise a 5-4 majority, will review a 2018 lower court ruling upholding the city’s restrictions after three gun owners and the NRA’s New York state affiliate sued, claiming the regulations imposed in the largest American city violated the US Constitution’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

 

The last time the Supreme Court took up a major firearms case was in 2008 and established an individual’s right to own guns for self-defence inside the home in 2010. The New York case concerned people who have licenses to possess guns at home, known as “premises” licenses, and already are allowed to take unloaded guns to shooting ranges within New York City. The plaintiffs said the city’s rules forbidding them from taking their guns to ranges or other homes outside city limits amounted to a “draconian” transport ban in violation of the Second Amendment. Premises licenses are different from “carry” licenses, which give holders broader freedom to take guns outside the home and are not at issue in the case.

 

Although a ruling striking down the restrictions would not necessarily have broad impact, the court’s majority could use the case to set a new precedent that makes it easier for gun rights activists to challenge other regulations. In recent years, the court has left in place assault-weapons bans in New York, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as laws over gun waiting periods and concealed-carrying permits in California.

 

The Details

 

  • The Supreme Court balance has tilted in the conservative’s favour in the past two years with President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

  • Last year, Mr. Kavanaugh replaced the retired conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals on high-profile social issues.

  • The case will be heard and decided in the court’s next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2020.

 

Background

 

The issue of gun rights is contentious in the US, which has experienced a succession of mass shootings in recent decades and calls from many Americans for stricter regulation of firearms and ammunition. However, citing the Second Amendment, the NRA and gun rights activists have consistently resisted any major gun control measures.

 

Gun owners and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, an NRA affiliate, filed suit in 2013 challenging the transport limits in federal court in New York. Last year, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected the constitutional challenge and said the restrictions advanced the city’s interest in protecting public safety.

 

The appeals court said the restrictions did not run afoul of the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that found for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to gun ownership under federal law, specifically to keep a handgun at home for self-defence. The high court in 2010 extended that right to state and local laws as well.

 

Since then, the justices had avoided taking up another major firearms case, despite gun rights proponents’ repeated attempts to extend those rights to other types of weapons and the hotly contested question of to what extent that right applies outside the home.

 

Key Quotes

 

The issue in the case seems small, but the implications could be tremendous,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

Report says vegans 'take twice as many sick days' as meat eating colleagues

 

The Story

 

Part of the Fisherman’s Friend annual cold and flu survey, a new study in the UK found that two-thirds of vegans admitted to taking more sick days off work due to cold, flu, and minor ailments, compared to their non-vegan colleagues. The study found that those on a solely plant-based diet are absent through illness for almost five days a year, more than in previous years, which is twice the annual total of the average Briton. In contrast, half of their meat-eating colleagues reported that they took the same amount of time off as the year before, while one in three said they took less. The study of 1,000 office workers also revealed that vegans are three times more likely to take a trip to their GP during the cold and flu season in comparison to the average UK adult.

 

The Details

 

  • The findings also revealed that Millennial workers take three times more time off work than those aged 55 and over, while workers in Nottingham, London and Norwich take the most days off.

  • Vegans tend to book 2.6 appointments to see the doctor, in contrast to the national average of just 0.7 visits.

 

Background

 

Though veganism is a growing food trend in the West and becoming increasingly mainstream around the world, vegans still only comprise 1.5 percent of the total US population and is metabolically typed for less than 10 percent of the population. Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market, worth around USD $136 million, a figure predicted to rise to USD $215 million by 2020 The US, Germany, and the UK are the top three vegan food labelling markets.

 

The report didn't specify the exact reasons behind its findings, which is arguably a reflection of the fact that, unless followed properly, vegan diets can put people at a greater risk of nutritional deficiencies such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 deficiency, which have the potential to weaken immune systems and make people more susceptible to illness, and vegans are advised to take nutritional supplements with their diet.

 

Key Quotes

 

Heather Russell, Dietitian at The Vegan Society, claims “It’s possible to get all the nutrients your body needs from a vegan diet. The Vegan Society has formed an alliance with the British Dietetic Association, promoting the message that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living in people of all ages. Research has linked this way of eating with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.”

 

Health Canada's new food guide drops 'milk and alternatives' and favours plant-based protein

 

The Story

 

Canada's new food guide, the first update in more than a decade, recommends fruits and vegetables make up half our plates at any meal and that Canadians choose protein foods that come from plants — not animals — most often. Food groups consisting of “milk and alternatives” and “meat and alternatives” are no longer standalone categories. Last week, a team of international scientists said a “planetary diet”, which is drastically low in red meat and high in legumes (beans and lentils) could save millions of lives and the planet.

 

Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, Director General of Health Canada’s office of nutrition policy and promotion, said the long-awaited rewrite is based on a rigorous scientific review using the best available evidence, and that industry-commissioned reports were intentionally excluded to reduce any perception of conflict of interest — real or imagined — and to maintain “the confidence of Canadians.” He said industry had a chance to have their input during two large rounds of public consultations, but that Health Canada made a “very strong commitment” not to meet with industry during the revision process. “We were very clear that when we were looking at the evidence base that we were not going to be using reports that have been funded by industry as well,” said Dr. Hutchinson.

 

The emphasis is on a high proportion of plant-based foods and replacing foods that contain mostly saturated fat (cream, high fat cheese, butter and the like) with foods that contain mostly unsaturated fats, like nuts, seeds and avocados. A diet higher in vegetables and fruits is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, eating more nuts or soy protein can help improve blood fat levels and processed meat has been linked to higher risks of colorectal cancer, Health Canada says.

 

The Details

 

  • The previous food guide had four food groups: fruit and vegetables; grain products; dairy; and meat.

  • Foods are now grouped into three categories: fruit and vegetables; whole grains (such as whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa); and protein foods (lentils, lean red meat, fish, poultry, unsweetened milk and fortified soy beverages, nuts, seeds, tofu, lower fat dairy and cheeses lower in fat and sodium.)

  • Recommendations are gone for specific portions or servings of different foods to be eaten daily. Instead, it lists foods Canadians are encouraged to eat on a regular basis, and which ones to limit.

  • Water should be our “beverage of choice,” and recommends moving away from fruit juices and other sugary drinks.

  • It warns of the health risks of drinking excess amounts of alcohol, including cancer, hypertension, and liver disease.

  • Advised Canadians to limit their consumption of highly-processed foods and prepare meals and snacks using ingredients that have little to no added sodium, sugar or saturated fats.

 

Background

 

The Dairy Farmers of Canada have insisted there is “no scientific justification to minimize the role of milk products” in the Canadian diet and that two to four servings of milk products daily can help promote bone and muscle health. “Lumping milk products together with other protein foods will lead to inadequate intakes of important nutrients,” the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Isabelle Neiderer, a registered dietitian, said in a recent statement. The organization has warned that any drastic change to the food rules would harm a sector still reeling from concessions granted in recent trade agreements.

 

Key Quotes

 

Since you are now seeing a federal agency discouraging consumers from drinking more milk or eating dairy products. We have a very protectionist system in Canada and domestically we have a federal agency that doesn’t necessarily endorse the nutritional role of dairy products as much as they used to,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, who sees more trouble for the dairy sector ahead.

 

Dyson insists its headquarters move to Singapore 'nothing to do with Brexit'

 

The Story

 

Dyson is one of Britain’s most high-profile technology companies and will relocate its headquarters from the UK to Singapore. Sir James Dyson, the innovative billionaire entrepreneur who owns the company, supported Brexit and called for Britain to “walk away” from the European Union. He said the decision to relocate was a commercial one and has previously said that if the UK failed to secure a trade deal and had to adopt WTO rules, it “would hurt the Europeans more than the British”.

 

Dyson’s products have earned Sir James a £9.5 billion fortune, and are now made in southeast Asia, although it retains its main R&D and engineering base in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, on a futuristic campus that employs several thousand researchers and designers. The relocation will mean that initially only the finance and legal directors move to Singapore where the company already has R&D and administration facilities. They will join chief executive Jim Rowan who is already based there.

 

Mr. Rowan said that only 4 percent of Dyson’s revenues came from the UK, and Far East markets were growing so quickly that having management based there “makes sense” and “We have been investing in Singapore for many years and we want to take advantage of the opportunities presented in southeast Asian markets.

 

The Details

 

  • Dyson announced annual results for 2018 that showed revenues rose 28 percent to £4.4 billion, with profits up 33 percent to £1.1 billion.

  • Dyson has been the poster child for British engineering for decades, even though it stopped manufacturing in the UK in 2003. It is famous for its vacuum cleaners, hand driers, and most recently launched a hair blow dryer and styling wand.

 

Background

 

Sir James has previously complained about UK corporate governance rules, which require even companies to post detailed annual accounts, saying it hands foreign rivals an advantage.

 

Dyson has apparently invested £2 billion into developing its own electric vehicles over the past few years and hopes to disrupt the established car industry. In October the company revealed it planned to build its cars in Singapore and has so far taken on 450 staff to develop the vehicles. A USD $1 billion global investment in Dyson cars will be made this year, with much of it going into the Far East, meaning the Singapore base will expand. The first car is on course to be revealed next year. Mr. Rohan brushed off concerns that Dyson could face the same production troubles that have hit Tesla, saying, "We have been manufacturing in the long term with various products in various industries,” he said, adding the company had so far built 50m high-speed electric motors for its existing products.

 

Unlike established automotive giants that have been forming alliances to reduce the huge risks and costs associated with developing electric vehicles, Dyson is unlikely to seek partners to build its cars. “Dyson’s history is that we tend to develop our own technology and manufacturing of key technologies,” Mr. Rohan added.

 

Key Quotes

 

Most successful companies these days are global companies - I don’t think [this relocation] changes that,” said Mr. Rohan, adding Dyson was not a British business but a “global company and has been for a long time”.


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