There’s something different about DECIEM, a self-proclaimed “abnormal” beauty company. Derek Wallace picked up on that intangible quality when considering coming on board as the company’s director of corporate and retail store development back in 2019. But what sealed the deal for Wallace was the age of the company, which had been founded only a few years prior.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and build a department on my own,” Wallace explains. “The role hadn’t really been defined yet, so I was able to bring in some autonomy and create value.”
Wallace continues to create value at DECIEM to this day by spearheading the company’s global development work. Courtesy of its buzzy beauty brands like The Ordinary, DECIEM has experienced tremendous growth since Wallace first joined. Wallace’s responsibilities have scaled in parallel to that growth, but he has kept pace by purposefully bringing people together to accomplish goals—from redeveloping a massive facility in Toronto to pushing for greater sustainability on the product front.
Wallace got his start in the industry roughly two decades ago. While he was working as a store associate at clothing company Guess, he saw an internal posting for a Toronto-based project coordinator role that introduced him to his current field. The role also paved the way for him to take on a project manager position at Guess, where he ultimately spent over 15 years honing his expertise in construction and capital development.
Following his departure from Guess, Wallace gained further development and project management experience at jeweler Michael Hill and construction management firm Prodigy Group before landing at DECIEM. From the beginning, he has played a major part in managing DECIEM’s ever-increasing number of real estate dealings, external partnerships, and brick-and-mortar locations throughout North America. “With the growth of the company has come more office space, more warehouse space, more partnerships, more counters, more rollouts,” he says. “Everything is on a larger scale.”
One of the large-scale projects currently within Wallace’s purview is DECIEM’s Toronto production facility and laboratory. “When I joined the business, we had a 110,000-square-foot warehouse that we quickly grew into,” Wallace elaborates. “We’re basically overhauling and upgrading the entire facility to encapsulate all of the business needs. Not one corner of the building will remain untouched.”
Once completed, the facility will house functions ranging from raw material delivery and outbound shipments to compounding and bottle-filling. Accordingly, Wallace must take each of those functions into account during the redevelopment process, placing added emphasis on regulatory compliance in the laboratory and chemical storage spaces.
Furthermore, Wallace remains in close contact with DECIEM’s sustainability team to ensure that the Toronto facility will align with the company’s short- and long-term environmental targets. “Our goal is to be 100 percent sustainable,” he says. “At DECIEM, beauty is between us and the earth. We feel that working to do things better is common sense.”
Specifically, DECIEM is focusing on implementing in-store and in-office recycling programs, minimizing the amount of waste sent to landfills, and selecting product packaging and distribution methods with the lowest possible negative environmental impact. In addition, Wallace personally facilitates the company’s risk management program pertaining to outside vendor practices and coordinates with utility companies to improve energy efficiency.
To maintain the forward momentum of sustainability and development projects alike, Wallace partners with his internal team as well as external parties. Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he prioritizes listening and understanding to foster effective collaboration. “Even if we can’t all be in the same room, magic happens when a group of people work together from a place of trust toward a goal,” says Wallace, who concentrates on getting the right people in place when building a team. “I’m a firm believer that having good people is more important than having a lot of people,” he adds.
Wallace and his team will remain instrumental as DECIEM continues to balance its ongoing expansion with COVID guidelines adherence. “We’re working every week to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy,” Wallace says. “Looking to the future, we’re focused on continuing our existing partnerships, building new partnerships, and refining our real estate strategy for selecting new brick-and-mortar locations.”
For Wallace, that means examining options for new growth in European and Korean markets, on top of curating DECIEM’s North American sites and aligning with company-wide sustainability initiatives. Wallace views supporting the company’s growth as a key component of his role—and one that he is excited to build on moving forward. All the while, he will keep the values and mantra at the heart of DECIEM’s identity at the forefront of his work.
“When we say that we’re abnormal at DECIEM, we really do mean it,” Wallace says. “I truly feel that the sky is the limit for the company.”