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How Deciem’s CEO turned around a skincare brand amid personal tragedy

September 13, 2021, 12:52 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announces a bid for president of France, Salesforce covers employee relocation costs from Texas, and a CEO turned around a multimillion-dollar skincare brand amid personal tragedy. Have a reflective Monday.

– Out of the ordinary. It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic journey to the C-suite than Nicola Kilner’s. The Deciem CEO stepped into the top job just before the 2019 death of her cofounder and friend Brandon Truaxe after a long and public struggle with his mental health.

Kilner wasn’t new to responsibility at Deciem—but before she became CEO she’d been mostly out of the public eye. “He quickly pushed away anyone who was close to him,” Kilner says of her friend and predecessor as CEO. That complicated situation, which you can read more about here, was on her mind as she took over the business.

For Fortune‘s 40 Under 40 package, which published last week, reporter Jessica Mathews has a new longread on how Kilner embraced the corner office amid personal tragedy and turned around the company. For those not familiar with its $6 serums, Deciem is the company behind skincare brand the Ordinary. Named for its original iteration as a sort of incubator for 10 brands, the business now brings in $460 million in annual revenue and is majority-owned by Estée Lauder.

Kilner, 32, is a reluctant CEO. She calls herself “very underqualified” for the role and credits her executive team—and the late Truaxe—with much of Deciem’s success. But, as Jessica writes, Kilner possesses many of the same qualities—like “truly believ[ing] in changing the world and the ability to make things better”—she so glowingly describes in her predecessor.

Read Jessica’s feature here and check out the rest of Fortune‘s 40 Under 40 list here.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- From Paris to president. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is entering the race for president of France. The socialist mayor will be one of several challengers to centrist President Emmanuel Macron. She's the first female mayor of Paris, and she would be the first female president of France. France24

- Game, set, match. Teen British tennis phenom Emma Raducanu prevailed at the U.S. Open on Saturday, becoming the first qualifier to ever win the tournament after sweeping sets throughout the Open. She defeated Canadian player (and fellow teen) Leylah Fernandez. CNN

- Left behindThe funds set up to cover health costs for first responders and others at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks have sometimes failed to account for women's health needs, this investigation finds. Women who have suffered 9/11-related health consequences like breast cancer or endometrial cancer say they've fought to counter the narrative that it's mostly male first responders in need of assistance. The Cut

- Relocation response. Salesforce will cover relocation costs for Texas employees who wish to move out of state because of restricted access to reproductive health care following the state's six-week abortion ban. The company is one of the largest to respond to the law with such a concrete employee proposal. CNBC

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Match Group promoted Renate Nyborg to CEO of Tinder. As part of sweeping leadership changes at Bank of America, chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant is becoming vice chair, global strategy; Wendy Stewart was named president of global consumer banking; and Holly O'Neill was named president of retail banking. Laura Newell-McLaughlin is now EVP, payments at Transact. AIG vet Alicia Sandlin joins TrustLayer as director of strategic initiatives. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Paying off. Over the next decade, China is expected to see a $5.3 trillion boom in consumer spending. Eighty percent of that will be due to an expansion to women's income, a UBS report says. The economic boom will be the result of two decades of investment in Chinese women's education, the report finds. Bloomberg

- Party's over. Houseparty, the social video chat app, will soon be no more. Two years after its acquisition, Epic Games is shutting down the app, which was a rare female-founded social platform. Former Houseparty CEO and cofounder Sima Sistani is staying on with Epic. Fortune

- Stealth ban. "Stealthing," or the nonconsensual removal of a condom during sex, is set to be outlawed in California. The legislation that would ban the act began with a term paper written by law student Alexandra Brodsky in 2017, in which she argued that the behavior was "rape-adjacent" and transformed consensual sex into nonconsensual sex. California State Assembly member Cristina Garcia began working on the bill, which would allow victims to sue partners who violate it, after reading Brodsky's paper. BuzzFeed

ON MY RADAR

Unicorn startup Papaya Global nearly quadruples its valuation, eyes an IPO Fortune

The business of being Ariana Grande Allure

Venus Williams: The thing that has really made me tough New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"I’m not afraid to share my pain. I don’t have any walls up when it comes to sharing those parts of myself."

-Kirsten Dunst on the key to her success as an actor

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