Malin + Goetz products are known for being simple and effective—but more than that, they spark joy. From the cozy glow of their Cannabis candle to the lushness of their Mojito Lip Balm or the evocative scent of their latest fragrance Stem, their products do so much more than what they advertise—very clearly—on the front of their packaging. Over the last 15 years, the independently owned brand has developed a cult following for this very reason, and it’s grown steadily from a few meticulously formulated apothecary products to a thoughtful offering across five categories (face, body, hair, fragrance, and candles).
Last week, we dropped by the sunny Manhattan HQ of Malin + Goetz, where Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, partners in business and life, showed us around with the help of their “Head of Product,” Mr. Greenberg the pug. The refreshingly candid and kind couple told us a bit about what their journey has meant on a personal level and what’s next for the brand.
The Window: Happy 15-year anniversary! How does it feel?
Andrew Goetz: It’s an incredible milestone. I always joke that when we first started the business, it really just was Malin + Goetz—and nobody else. We sat at a big, long table working; we waited on customers; we packed up boxes. We started with a freestanding store, a website, and then Barneys as our first national retailer. Barneys is an integral part of our DNA from the beginning.
How did the relationship with Barneys start?
Matthew Malin: Twenty-five years ago, in 1993, I started as a beauty buyer at Barneys. Andrew and I had started dating at that point, and he was a regular shopper. Our former dog Bob used to come with us to the original 17th Street store. As we started developing the brand, we approached Barneys and explained that we were customers, we had worked for the brand, we lived in Chelsea nearby—it felt natural.
AG: I can go even further back! I got my bar mitzvah suit at Barneys on 17th Street when it was still a men’s store. Also, funnily enough, my parents used to live in the same building as Simon Doonan!
MM: The connection was always deeper than just a retailer. It transcends many things. There’s a lot of passion.
What was the mission when you launched Malin + Goetz?
AG: The mission was always to uncomplicate skincare. I think what we’ve always done well is keeping the focus on that ethos over 15 years. The brand has certainly grown to include other categories, but it’s remained uncomplicated.
MM: One of the opportunities I had as a buyer there was to see all these indie brands come in that Barneys would launch—brands that are huge now, like NARS and Fresh. As we started to think, years later, about how we were going to do something on our own, we knew we wanted to do something special and niche. And independent. The void we wanted to fill was uncomplicated skincare and from a unisex perspective.
AG: Back then I found the industry so baroque. It was intimidating for someone like me who used a bar of Neutrogena for everything. We saw a need for things to be pared down. There’s an old French expression, too much choice is no choice. We wanted to sell people less skincare.
How were you different than other brands at the time?
MM: We decided to focus on transparency, with the text on the front of the bottles. It’s about being honest and not using ingredients that are inappropriate. It was about being inclusive from day one.
What would you say has been your biggest milestone over the years?
MM: Launching at Barneys was a huge milestone because it was a national footprint. Our own freestanding store and website as well, and our second store was a big deal.
AG: Every chapter is a milestone. Moving into this office was a milestone. We’ve been here two years. There’s 150 people in the company, about 35 in this office…and, of course, Mr. Greenberg the dog.
MM: We launched our Detox Face Mask about four years in, and it won Allure’s best mask of the year. It was super successful. Also, the year after that we launched our Eucalyptus Deodorant, and 10 years later it’s still our best-selling product. There’s a craze for natural deodorants right now, but we did it back then.
AG: Speaking of being ahead of the curve, we launched our Cannabis Candle more than 10 years ago. We’ve always been forward-thinking, while having a sense of humor.
What’s your approach to evolving the brand?
MM: To try to think of what people aren’t doing so we are filling voids in the marketplace and stay relevant.
AG: We avoid looking at the trends. We create products that we use, our parents use, our friends use. That’s our laboratory! It’s very authentic and organic.
Tell us about Stem, your latest fragrance launch.
MM: We’re very excited about Stem. Fragrance is the smallest of our categories, but one of the fastest growing.
AG: Actually, introducing fragrance was one of our milestones. It was probably year two of the business. It wasn’t necessarily planned but happened during a WWD conference in Miami. It’s unusual for a skincare company to delve into fragrance, but we had a very linear approach. We don’t use artificial fragrance in our skincare, but since people love an olfactory experience, we wanted a way to let them choose what their fragrance will be, if they want it at all.
MM: Our fragrance highlights both how we don’t use artificial fragrances in our products, but also highlights the unisex concept of the brand. Every scent begins with, how could this work for both genders? Stem started from the idea of creating a floral that’s not a floral. We call this the un-floral. It’s everything about a floral that isn’t the flower itself—the leaves, the stem, the green. If you’re in the garden and picking flowers, what’s left on your hands?
AG: It’s the verb of gardening—the act of gardening. Back to milestones again, once the business was taking off and we weren’t working seven days a week, we bought a farmhouse in upstate New York. Getting away on the weekends was a monumental change, and we quickly became avid gardeners. In the act of staking and cutting, oils rub off on your hands—those are the inspiration behind this scent.
What are your personal all-time favorite products?
MM: I have an easy answer: the very first product that we made. Coming from the beauty industry and having been a buyer with a ton of skin issues—rosacea, eczema, skin allergies—I wanted to create a great foundation product. We formulated or Grapefruit Skin Cleanser first, as a face wash is a foundation of a skin routine. This one is a perfect, beautiful product that does exactly what it says — it removes all the dirt, grime, and oil but never strips your skin.
AG: My answer is more complicated. I love all my children equally! I don’t use them all to the same degree, but I use the vast majority. I balance my routine depending on climate, weather, and conditions of my skin. If it’s dry and cold I use a Recovery Oil. In the summer when it’s hot I use a serum. I love our Jojoba Facial Scrub. I mix and match based on what’s going on in the environment. The Grapefruit Face Cleaner, Vitamin E Moisturizer, and the Face Serum are pretty consistent.
What’s next for Malin + Goetz?
MM: When you develop a skincare range based on simplicity, you don’t start out with a lot, so there’s an opportunity for us to fill voids along the way, and it’s really based on customer demands. We can have several masks and shampoos without overcomplicating things.
AG: As our customer ages with us, skin changes, and we have to fulfill different product needs.