Matthew Malin & Andrew Goetz founded their company, (MALIN+GOETZ), in March of 2004. (MALIN+GOETZ) is a unisex, natural skincare line. It's perfect because both males and females can use these delicious smelling & effective products. The products look great on a countertop, and make you feel fabulous since you are supporting a local, family-owned business. Indulge in their story below!
Walk me through your career path. Matthew: I started in the Buying Office at Saks and moved from a traditional corporate position to a very fashion forward family run company, Barneys, in 1993. It was an incredible opportunity at that time for a 25 year old from Michigan. The Madison and Beverly Hills store locations were just opening. We created a beauty department and launched brands that did not exist in the market—Kiehl's, Stila, Nars, Fresh, etc. I was the Kiehls buyer and became friendly with the family that owned the business, pre L’Oreal. After three years there, I had an opportunity to oversee global sales at a growing and expanding Kiehl’s. It was, again, incredible. Six years later and after much success, Kiehl’s was sold to L’Oreal and Prada—this is now the year 2000— and was developing a New York based beauty division. I got to work on fragrance development with Helmut Lang whose brand had then been purchased by Prada. Pretty cool. When Helmut left Prada two years later, Andrew and I saw an opportunity to begin development of MALIN+GOETZ.
Andrew, how did your experience working at a furniture company translate to starting a company? I’ve always had a strong creative streak. Therefore, it was not difficult to take my experiences working at Vitra and translate my acquired skills to create Malin+Goetz. Like Malin+Goetz, Vitra is a family owned business, driven by passion and design. As the US Marketing Director, my role also extended to working with industrial designers, architects and interior designers. As both packaging and store design are paramount to the Malin+Goetz experience – being able to work fluidly in all aspects of design was very important not only for the brand, but it also honed my entrepreneurial skills as well.
How did the two of you meet? Matthew: We met at The Bar in the East Village. It was a tiny local beer and pool bar and a weekend hangout for each of us.
How did you decide to start (Malin+Goetz)? Matthew: As changes at Prada were occurring, there was an opportunity for me to move on. At the same time, many independent brands that I had been associated with had been sold off to large corporations: Kiehl's to L’Oreal, Bliss to LVMH, Stila to Estee Lauder, etc. We saw a void for something special and authentic.
What was the process of picking the name and creating the packaging & products? Matthew: Long. The name was the hardest and last detail. The idea was to modernize traditional apothecary concepts. Our products use proven technology to advance trusted naturals. The packaging is a contemporary version of an old world chemist’s label. And, our last names, MALIN+GOETZ, are an homage to chemists that hang their name above their shop—as we did above our original store in Manhattan’s Chelsea (the neighborhood and building for which we live!).
How did you form partnerships with businesses across New York City (and globally as well)? Andrew: Like many things at Malin+Goetz, our restaurant partnerships developed in a very organic manner. It first started by us introducing ourselves to the owner, and telling them that we made great hand washes and moisturizers. One by one, we began to add more and more restaurants to our roster. Word soon got out, and we were fanning calls from restaurants all across the country, and even from abroad – asking about our program. We remain very particular on the folks we work with. It’s not about the price of the food – it’s about the quality of the restaurant and the folks connected to it.
How did the partnership with Delta come about? Matthew: Restaurants, Delta and our entire distribution has been organic and non-solicited. As reference, Andrew’s experience in design and mine in the beauty industry offered us confidence to extend our careers, on our own, and leverage our understanding, know-how and relationships. So much of our press and interest from retailers, etc have come from long-standing friendships in our industries. Have you seen an increase in brand awareness from these partnerships? How has this impacted your business? Matthew: Amenities and our general distribution have created incredible awareness, and, amenities in general have driven tremendous return at retail. It is invaluable.
Has it been difficult to stay niche and not sell your brand to multiple retailers? Matthew: Yes! When you are a luxury, niche, self-funded and independent brand, it is really hard. You need the money and sales and you also require exclusivity to be meaningful. It is a careful balancing act. However, developing strong partnerships over the long term is strategic and effective and a pleasure.
What was the decision process behind creating a unisex line? Matthew: We are a couple, with different skin types and needs, and wanted products we could share. Many of our friends and family were the same. We filled a void.
How did you learn to run a business? Matthew: Day by day. Still learning…!!! Luckily, we both came from successful, family run and operated businesses and had the opportunity to see, first hand, facets of these and models for what does and does not work. Great experiences to apply to M+G.
What advice would you give someone interested in starting their own company? Matthew: Write a business plan and understand every financial detail. Also, have contingencies and worst case scenarios thoughtfully planned into the plan. It is such a useful and help guide and tool.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned? Matthew: So many. The thing that stands out—and this may be specific to our experience—is that we self-funded. This forced us to be really creative and resourceful. Much of the strength of our business came from not having much in terms of money.
Where do you see (Malin+Goetz) in 5 years? Matthew: We love what we do and plan to do more of it. We love our shops, and, like most, are excited by the infinite digital opportunities and changes. It is an exciting new world.
Shoppable links to some of my favorite Malin+Goetz products below!