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by: Jane Larkworthy, Editor at Large.
Malin + Goetz is not a Scandinavian architecture firm.
Nor is it an Austrian opera, or a German term used for teaching your new puppy how to fetch. Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz are two guys who created a brand to give you better skin, make you smell better and add a chic upgrade to your bathroom.
What began in 2004 as a minimalist boutique in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood that offered gentle products for people with sensitive skin has expanded to an internationally recognized and trusted name currently sold in 21 countries. As the brand is about to turn thirteen and open its ninth store (in New York’s Nolita), we posed 13 questions to Andrew and Matthew on the cusp of their baby’s coming of age.
What were you like at 13?
Matthew: I was an introverted boy who was bookish and uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted to be an architect. I was good at math and I loved to draw. I still appreciate the precision of architecture.
Andrew: I was an extremely cheeky kid, probably to overcompensate for being painfully shy. But I was also incredibly curious and creative – and remain so today. That helped me forge my independent spirit. Although I was a quirky 13-year-old who marched to my own tune, my peers seemed to embrace my sense of otherness, and I got along with a wide variety of people. I certainly had no idea what I wanted to be at that age because I was interested in so many things, a dilemma that followed me well past my teenage years.
Do you remember what product you wanted to first make when you started the brand? And did that end up being the first product?
M: The first product–desired, made and a success–is our Grapefruit Face Cleanser. I suffer from several skin issues and getting the basic of skincare perfect was the goal. Voila.
A: Coming from the design world, my focus was on the packaging. But we both knew that we wanted to create a great face cleanser and moisturizer, as well as the same products for the body and hair. Our first products are still our best sellers.
What was the most important word in skin care to you 13 years ago? And what’s the most important word to you now?
A: Face Moisturizer. Other than a good cleanser, I probably did not need much more back then. Fast forward, thirteen years and on the cusp of my 55th birthday, my most important word has broadened to three: Recovery Treatment Oil. This product has made a world of difference in my skin’s appearance. It’s an anti-oxidant dream.
M: 13 years ago it was “simple”, and today it is still “simple.” Simple skincare solutions.
You live in Manhattan and spend weekends north of the city. Is that why it’s really important to you to tap from the region?
M: We were inspired by the traditional neighborhood apothecaries–their no-fuss artisanal quality and personalized service. With globalization, the offer of a localized approach and to embrace other mom-and-pop, grassroots and family-owned businesses in and around New York was a personal passion. We manufacture almost all of our ingredients and packaging in or near New York City. Andrew is a native New Yorker and I remember when we first met 24 years ago, he would get cheese from his favorite local cheese shop, his bread from the bakery down the street. My childhood wasn’t like that. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, we did all of our shopping at the big grocery store conglomerate.
A: It’s true. I don’t know of any other place that’s packed with so much diversity, creativity and energy. It’s positively electric – which means it can sometimes come with a nasty shock. But I can’t imagine having it any other way.
What overused beauty term do you hate?
A: “Anti-aging.” First of all, it’s not about not aging, it’s about aging with grace, dignity and aplomb. Sure, we all want to assuage the appearance of aging badly or prematurely. I’m a proponent of aging healthfully. That’s very different from anti-aging. Since we can’t stop the aging process, it’s best to focus on how to do it well.
M: “Beauty.” It seems so out of date and not inclusive.
What skin care element do you think people can’t wrap their heads around?
M: Like food diets, there is no quick fix. Eat less and exercise more and you will look great. It is a simple idea and yet it’s hard to do. Use a great cleanser and moisturizer every day, stay out of the sun and avoid smoking and excess of the obvious stuff. It is a simple formula that requires daily perseverance.
A: People can’t wrap their heads around the ailment that affects them personally. If you have systemic acne – you probably could not imagine anything worse. Those with dark circles under their eyes think they’ve been handed the worst hand. We all tend to personalize our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Thankfully, there is often a solution to many of the more ordinary ailments – but it’s still probably hard for folks to wrap their heads around them.
What are your passions other than skin care?
A: There are so many. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to drink. We love architecture and design, we love art, we love gardening. And, boy, do we love our little pug, Mr. Greenberg.
M: That’s probably our biggest weekend passion.
Where was the last great meal you had?
A: It’s hard to find a great meal. Obviously, the food has to be good, but the experience should be memorable, too. I was in London recently and I walked into Duck Soup in SoHo. The place was packed, so I figured I’d try to eat at the bar. I started to feel quite claustrophobic about the whole thing when I started talking to this couple sitting next to me. Next thing I knew, we were seated together for dinner. We had this incredible meal, not only because the food was great, but because I made three new friends. We spent the night eating and drinking into the wee hours. That was a great meal. Matthew came to London a few days later and we went back.
M: Great food. But we didn’t meet anyone new that night.
Tell us about a recent purchase you’re psyched about?
A: We bought a Sonya Flavin texture, which hangs over our bed in Hudson. She’s Dan Flavin’s wife.
M: My last purchase was a Comme des Garcons coat. I dropped a little money, but it was at Barney’s after-Christmas sale, so I got a good deal. There are such good things there!
A: I just bought my first pair of Hunter boots for the country. I don’t know how I ever lived without them.
M: He wears them all the time. They’re like the ones Queen Elizabeth wears.
A: They’re so great in the snow, and when it’s muddy. They’re this beautiful industrial gray. I didn’t go for the traditional green ones.
M: I don’t have anything like that for the snow or mud. I wear Timberlands. I did recently buy a pair of Vans for $30 that I love. They’re crazy comfortable.
Comfort’s important, isn’t it? What’s the coziest item you own?
M: I’d say the coziest things are the throws i have laying around the house.
A: I guess it’s our Eider down duvet, especially on a cold day when the wind is whipping against the windows, it’s perfect to hide beneath.
Got any vices you’d be willing to reveal?
A: I’m happy to say that I have many. I just try to moderate them so that I’m not enjoying them at all the same time.
M: Chocolate. Anything dark chocolate. I can make myself sick.
If you could pick only one Malin + Goetz product to take with you on a desert island (one that has plenty of shade), which would it be?
M: Tough one, but if I can wash my face with sea water (which is incredibly healing) twice a day, then I would take a moisturizer–SPF 30 Face Moisturizer (or if I really always had shade, then the non-SPF version, Vitamin E Face Moisturizer)
A: I cherish all my children equally. But since it’s a desert island with plenty of shade, I’m going with our Recovery Treatment Oil. It would be ideal in a hot climate, and since it comes in a glass bottle, I’d be able to slip some notes into the empty bottles with the hope that it would wash up somewhere in civilization, so someone could get me off the bloody island and return me to all my children.
Since Malin + Goetz is kind of like your love child, how would you toast it on its 13th birthday?
A: I’m so proud to see you grow up before my eyes, and cannot believe how quickly 13 years have flown by. You have grown from a cheeky kid, to an extraordinarily sophisticated adult. I could not be a prouder parent.
M: Happy birthday to the smartest, best looking, most helpful, dependable and honest child I know. How did we get so lucky?