Andrew Goetz (of Malin+Goetz) on Skin+Life
If you’ve had a chance to stay with us this summer, you probably noticed that our products have gotten a very exciting upgrade. We’re thrilled to be featuring Malin+Goetz luxury products in our rooms this season and recently celebrated by chatting with the brand’s co-founder, Andrew Goetz. Read below to get Andrew’s thoughts on skin, the brand’s history and success, his beloved (and impressive) garden, and more…
You’ve come a long way since opening your first store in NYC’s Chelsea in 2004, yet you’ve managed to remain true to your original mantra of creating products that are uncomplicated, gentle and effective for all skin types and for both women and men. How did this philosophy originate and how does it impact your approach to product formulations, marketing, and the brand ethos in general?
We have indeed come a long way. It seems like yesterday when Matthew and I were working out of the original Chelsea store with our dogs Bob and Junior at our side. Nine stores later, with two more on the way, and a brand new office – it’s hard to believe 13 years have passed. But one thing has stayed the same – and that’s our commitment to making the best, most gentle and uncomplicated products possible. The original concept was developed because my partner, Matthew Malin has always suffered from sensitive skin. So we were determined to create a range that was great for women and men, especially those with sensitive skin. We understood that if you used too many products, that you could create sensitivities, so we always use the best ingredients and kept it simple. Less really is more.
Advertising and media have conditioned people (women especially) that we need different products for every inch of our faces, for morning and night, for different skin types/concerns, and as we age, yet you’ve found success in focusing on simplicity. Have you faced any particular challenges with this somewhat disruptive take on skincare?
Most skincare companies want to sell you as many products as they possibly can. If one product causes irritation, they create another product to calm it. It’s a vicious circle. We always joke that we want to sell you less products; just really great products. While there certainly are different skin types, the vast majority are somewhere in the middle. So unless you have a problematic skin condition, a really great product will work if you are bit oily, normal, or a bit dry. Most of us have combination skin. To put it another way, the doctor doesn’t prescribe you different medicine for a strep throat depending on whether you are woman or a man, or if you are Caucasian or African American. Skincare does not need to be complicated.
In a similar vein, most brands separate their men’s and women’s offerings, yet you’ve decided that “skin is skin” – were people difficult to convince at first?
Just about everyone embraces the concept and says how refreshing it is. But then, culture can kick in. I remember when we launched the brand in Korea, and all the editors were raving about what an amazing concept Malin+Goetz was, but then they would all say, but will it work on Korean skin? We would explain, that we are based in New York – one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet, and also a place of extreme heat and cold – and that we had just about every ethnicity embracing the brand. So if it could work in New York, it most certainly could work on Korean Skin – which of course is not different than anyone else’s.
Your iconic packaging is quite unique compared to other skincare brands, especially at the time you launched…tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it. Were you always clear on what you wanted or were there other variations?
Thank you. We obviously think that our packaging is really unique and special. We get tons of graphic designers and architects flocking to the brand because of our packaging. We used a great design firm by the name of 2×4 to create the identity. Our inspiration were the old glass apothecary bottles from the turn of the last century. We loved how beautiful and clinical they were at the same time. So we brought them to 2×4 as an inspiration, saying we wanted to modernize them. They could not have done a better job in doing just that. There were a number of variations, but all were based on the same paradigm.
Despite the rise of e-commerce, you still focus on the in-store experience, why is this so important for your brand and what can people expect that they wouldn’t get online or anywhere else?
We think stores are more important than ever. Each one of our stores is uniquely designed to be completely different from one another. Using a variety of architects and designers creates unique individual atmospheres special to each individual shop. While we love that design plays such an important and alluring part of our story, it’s what happens in our stores that makes the difference. Our staff is highly trained and educated on our products and can easily answer most skincare questions; assuring you get exactly the product you need. So shopping in our stores is a great experience. And there is never any pressure to buy – we generously sample products for our customer to try so they are always happy with what they eventually purchase. While shopping online is convenient and easy, it will never replace the joy and experience of shopping directly in one of the shops.
Even though the company has grown exponentially, you’ve continued to work with local chemists and manufacturers. What are some of the challenges and rewards associated with keeping operations local to NY?
There is only an upside to working with local chemist and labs. We can easily control the quality and consistency by being close to our production facilities. We never have to worry about dubious cost cutting manufacturers abroad. While making things locally makes our products a bit more expensive, we know that the guaranteed quality and efficacy of our products is well worth the price.
Now that you’re here, what advice would you give your former selves back in 2004?
I honestly don’t think that we’d have done anything differently. Even the things that didn’t work out, or went poorly, were lessons that we learned from. You only grow by learning, and you only learn by making mistakes.
We’re thrilled to feature your luxury products in our rooms this season! Do you get to spend much time out east? Any favorite local eateries/shops?
We too are absolutely thrilled to be at the Montauk Beach House. Unfortunately, we don’t get out East that often, as we have a farm house outside of Hudson upstate. But I always love dinner at the Crow’s Nest, hanging out at Ditch Plains Beach, and the obligatory trip to Sag Harbor, where we dine overlooking the harbor at Beacon. Of course, if we’ve over indulged, we always make time for a work out at Barry’s Boot Camp. And when I was a kid, I loved the Swamp in East Hampton – but I’m sure that’s long gone.
On a more personal note, what are some of your interests and passions beyond skincare?
There are many. We’ve taken to gardening lately, and have this truly awesome garden at our home upstate. It’s especially terrific because I really love to cook as well. There’s nothing more satisfying then being able to cook almost an entire meal from our garden. I need to get working on the winery part of the equation! I’m also an avid skier, and we love to travel as well. And when I’m not moving in a million different directions, I love to settle down on the sofa with our dog, Mr. Greenberg and a good book.
What are you currently (or soon to be):
Eating…There is a farm near our country house that raises incredible lamb. Lamb chops simply grilled on our charcoal grill makes them sublime.
Drinking…I take the train up to Hudson on Friday night. I reward myself for braving the horrors of Penn Station with a Negroni on the rocks the minute I sit down for dinner in Hudson. It’s my Friday night ritual. But only one – a good mineral laden rosé will follow.
Wearing…a pair of well worn kakis, Chuck Taylors, and a white shirt from Folk in London.
Reading…Finishing up City on Fire by Garth Hallberg. And I read the New York Times, The Guardian, The Economist and New Yorker pretty religiously. If only I had more time.
Watching…Catastrophe – absolutely hilarious.
Listening to…I listen to more podcasts then music these days.
Buying…I have a slight furniture addiction. While our apartment in the city is pretty small, comparatively, we have a big house in the country to absorb my obsession.
Obsessing over…Besides work…I’d have to say our garden. It’s a Sisyphean endeavor, but it brings great joy; even when things don’t quite go as planned.
Lastly, are there any upcoming projects, collaborations or product launches you’d like to tell our readers about?
We are in the process of opening our first store in Hong Kong. We are really excited about it. And there are of course a bunch of wonderful new products coming out in the Fall.