To celebrate the launch of MALIN+GOETZ at The Conran Shop, we sat down with its founders Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz to discover a little more about the contemporary apothecaries.
What are the core values of MALIN+GOETZ?
The idea behind MALIN+GOETZ was to make skincare simpler, starting with sensitive skin. Part of what we tried to accomplish is keeping things authentic in a time when businesses are becoming more and more commercial. Being family-owned and operated, having a local sensibility with the neighbourhood apothecary, being New York-based, produced and manufactured local to New York City – all of these are our core values.
How do you find the perfect balance between using natural ingredients and the latest skincare technology?
One of the overriding principles and terminology of what we try to accomplish is that we make skincare simple but, first and foremost, starting with the most sensitive skin. If you can tackle the most sensitive skin, you can address every product to almost anyone that comes along. In doing so, as the overriding direction of the business (or at least product formulation) we make sure that we develop with the most tried, true and trusted natural ingredients you would have found throughout history. So, we are not experimenting with our customer in any way – we know these things work. In addition to that, we also know technology has advanced to help these ingredients perform better.
However, with that, there is a lot of experimental technology that happens to be out there – things that can cause irritation, or can be invasive, or even creating products that don’t need to exist in the first place. So, our idea is to use the gentlest technologies to help the ingredients that we trust to perform even better, to deliver deeper or hydrate more thoroughly, or whatever the idea is behind the formula specifically. As long as we are starting with the gentlest and more effective opportunities, we’re able to address the broadest amount that happens to be out there.
What are your current go-to MALIN+GOETZ products?
My favourite MALIN+GOETZ product is the first one we made, the Grapefruit Facial Cleanser. It is the foundation for everything else that you’re going to do after that. I wash my face every day, twice a day, without exception. So, if I’m exhausted at the end of the day or I’ve had too much to drink or whatever it is I will wash my face before I go to bed. It is the one thing I will not (not) do. I just think this particular product does exactly what we say it’s going to do – which is our mantra for every single product. It is thorough, it is not drying, it is balancing, it cleans the skin, it purifies, it leaves you feeling fresh and ready for whatever else you need to do on your face thereafter. Also, we must mention our most popular product, our Eucalyptus Deodorant – it’s a must for both of us. A quick swipe of our Eucalyptus Deodorant is all you need, it's aluminium and alcohol-free, yet it works which I suppose explains why it's our number one best-seller!
What has changed the most for you both, the brand and the industry since opening in 2004?
For the brand, it has just grown and become bigger. So, the platform for being local and specialists just becomes harder with the more staff you have and trying to mentor and keeping things simple and the way that they’ve always been. I think the industry has changed from both a retail and media perspective in ways that also are more commercial and faster. The demands are a lot greater in small business. And so, to stay authentic- you kind of have to pick a lane and sometimes that’s not so easy.
What did you learn from working for iconic brands like Barneys, Kiehls and Vitra?
From the perspective of Barney’s – it was a an introduction into niche luxury, independent and entrepreneurial businesses. This gave us a sensibility and sense of direction in terms of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do personally, which is how MALIN+GOETZ has come about. I think there are some similarities in that to Vitra as well, because Vitra, where Andrew used to work, is family owned and operated, and Barney’s, where I worked, is family owned and operated by the Pressman family who is third-generation. In addition to that, Kiehl’s was also family-owned and operated and as a singular brand (personally for me), as opposed to multiple businesses that I was working for at Barney’s, I had the opportunity from the vendor and manufacturing side to see the inner workings of an entrepreneurial business. A business model that wasn’t orthodox or traditional – one that was based on a family that put things together in intuitive ways that they felt was appropriate and what their customer was looking for – and those same sensibilities have been built into MALIN+GOETZ.
What sets MALIN+GOETZ apart from the rest of the beauty and skincare industry?
We take the exact opposite approach from most of the skincare industry. We decided to create fewer products to make it easy and uncomplicated for people because traditionally it’s never been a complicated idea. Beauty has always been – if you think about what your grandparents did – these basic concepts of taking care of your skin, staying out of the sun, not smoking, washing your face, moisturizing it. Those are the basics, if you do those, you’re almost guaranteed a benefit. Rather than having these long regimens of 12 steps, we’ve stuck to 2 and kept it simple and uncomplicated. That’s probably the most important thing that sets us apart, the fact that we started this business as an independent, self-funded, family-owned and operated business, where we weren’t going to raise capital just so we could blow this out and sell it off, sets us apart compared to many and I’m really proud of what we have accomplished. Both of those two things together really have separated us from all the others out there.
Why is well-considered design such an important part of the MALIN+GOETZ brand?
Because design sells and people want things to be beautiful and we want things to be beautiful. We paid a lot of attention to that for those aesthetic purposes. Also, form does follow function, and great design solves problems and makes things not just beautiful to have around but it helps to make them better. One of the ideas behind MALIN+GOETZ was that if you live in a small, expensive, New York City apartment with limited space, you can’t just have thousands of things crowding cupboards. What if you could just have a few things sitting out on the shelves because they work because they look good because they do all the things you need them to do and they’re still beautiful. That’s what we tried to accomplish with design.
You are known for your unique store concepts, what do you look for in a retail space?
We look for a match in terms of the customer base and main street shopping locality. The idea is that these are neighbourhoods where people live and where they are looking to shop near their homes as a part of the community. If you think back to apothecaries 100 years ago, they were the local pharmacist or chemist that were serving us and being a part of those communities is important. We all want to be a part of these experiences and that’s what we aim to deliver – individualized experiences every time we open in a new neighbourhood. And those neighbourhoods are where our customers live and ultimately where we (myself and Andrew) would like to live ourselves.
The band hails from New York, what do you love about urban life and what excites you the most about launching with The Conran Shop in London and Paris?
London is very similar to New York and one of the greatest things about New York is it is one of the most diverse places on the planet. Maybe the second most diverse city would be London. I think it’s exciting, there’s great energy there, it’s diverse, young, it’s a terrific place. Urban living is about convenience and ease and the focus on your career. These three cities, in particular, are great urban centres for culture. So, just how rich these cities happen to be in terms of culture, and specifically from a diversity perspective is very exciting for us. The fact that we are partnering with a company that has been focused on design from its inception and continues to be a leader in design, feels well-suited for the brand.
Finally, congratulations, you're celebrating 10 years of your best-selling eucalyptus deodorant in June, what else does the future hold?
This is a question where we want to have an answer that’s as exciting as possible, but the reality is that for 15 years we’ve been staying focused and doing the same thing 15 years later – and that is keeping things simple and uncomplicated. We are looking to expand our product assortment where we fill a need and have customer requests, so we’re not overloading people with a product and producing things that aren’t necessary. Just continuing to do what we do – developing products, opening stores where appropriate, and most importantly keeping the range simple, tight and focused!