Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz have come quite a long way since they formed their apothecary company with personal funds, a unique vision, and thirteen products. The pair have expanded their line to around forty items―with no signs of slowing―and distribute them internationally, in select stores and boutiques, from Singapore to London, Japan to Germany.
Malin―who previously worked as the apothecary buyer for Barneys when it was still privately owned by the Pressman family―and Goetz―who was previously employed by the furniture producer Vitra―seem a perfect team. The former's experience in the industry that (Malin+Goetz) works within and the latter's managerial prowess complement each other in an awe-inspiring way. Anthem couldn't be more impressed―and obsessed―with the company's products, so it was a great pleasure to finally talk with Malin about the company he's invested so much in. Read on for a sort of (Malin+Goetz) beginner's guide.
Tell me a little about the packaging of your products…
I know 2×4 [the design studio] through my days at Vitra, and we already had a relationship with them, so it made sense to work with them again.
We brought them an old apothecary bottle from the turn of the century and we… asked them to modernize it. That was the basic design brief.
The design leads your eyes down, so you always know how to find something. We created a system. And this is really smart, but they color coded everything, too…
The last thing was to make [the packaging] appeal to both men and women… and be beautiful―and serious, too. It's interesting how, in other countries, people really love the packaging!
Why'd you decide to make everything unisex?
We looked back to the past… fifty years ago, no pharmacist would ask if you were a man or a woman. Gender doesn't define how your skin works. It's your body's biggest organ! I think [everything's] become over-complicated. But there is still a difference―like buying a car. [Health care] isn't just about the utilitarian effort of buying a bar of soap…
So tell me a little about your backgrounds.
Matthew was the apothecary buyer at Barneys… he bought Kiehl's and… when that was bought by L'Oreal, I said, “this is a great opportunity to fill the gap!”
What was unique in both over experiences was that all the companies we worked at before were family―and not corporate. We didn't want to create products that were market-driven.
Your New York store is supposed to be amazing…
We call it The Lab metaphorically―it's this place where we think differently (like in a lab). It was [originally] our office and distribution center.
And how do you make all of this stuff? What's the creation process?
We hired an amazing formulator and said to her that we wanted something scented naturally. We scented them for a therapeutic purpose… and for an olfactory one [second]. We've taken everything that's not necessary out of the formulations.
When we first started―since we were self-funded―we had to have a [small line]. We started with… thirteen… and now we're at about forty! The new products come with for necessity―it's not just because it's the flavor of the month. There're gaps in our portfolio that need to be filled. And sometimes, new products come about because… new technology arises. It's that idea of the lab in that regard… we don't want things to be gratuitous―it's like a think tank.
In a world where everything's so readily accessible, it's nice to feel a little special; like you're in on the secret.