I love indie beauty brands. Part of the reason is that not everyone is carrying it around with them (exclusivity counts for something), and finding a good indie line of products is sort of like unearthing a treasure at a flea market or something. The other part is that I like knowing I’m buying something unique from someone with a face and a story, rather than an impersonal, massive corporation.
Malin + Goetz has been around for about seven years, but it is still an independent brand, and is fairly selective about how it has grown its business and where it chooses to sell product. Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, the chatty and lovely founders of the brand, have a small company of 30 employees and they’re happy with their size. While they’ve flirted with the big-time, like doing special products with LVMH, they’re wary about maintaining control in distribution.
Malin+Goetz is a fairly high-end brand, yet accessible at the same time, which is a hard-to-find combination. They manage to simultaneously seem posh but not too rarefied. Yes, they’re sold at Barney’s, but they also have a gorgeous little shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (my rather non-fancy neighborhood), which is where I got to chat with Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz.
Matthew Malin is a veteran of the beauty industry and has some skin issues himself, so everything is safe for sensitive skin, and also unisex, “So your boyfriend can sleep over,” he says. Andrew Goetz has a design background, and it’s no coincidence that their packaging is award-winning. It’s reminiscent of old apothecary bottles, with lots of text and very little frill. The products are instantly recognizable, and the primary colors of the print make for an eye-catching display.
As far as products, they’re a combination of natural ingredients and science. As Andrew put it, “Nothing’s in there that doesn’t need to be there.” The products smell great, but the additives are all active, not just there to be pretty. They’ve also got clean, fresh, scents to appeal to both genders. The spray fragrances and candles are meant to be layered to create your own unique scents. It’s fun, sort of like mixing Play-doh to see what you end up with.
I could have kept the two co-founders talking all day, since they were not afraid to express their opinions about things, such as: Parabens are not evil (though they’ve since removed the parabens from their products due to customer demand. (They told me a hilarious story about a woman who called to complain about how dangerous parabens are, all while taking drags on a cigarette in between complaints); and that they are sad when indie brands sell to big companies (interesting to see how this one plays out for them).
Anyway, they have some great new products out for spring. Two new candles, Tobacco and Geranium Leaf, are meant to be burned together. I was skeptical until I tried it. My apartment now smells like a lush sanctuary. There’s also an SPF 15 face moisturizer, which is a new category for the brand. A mojito lip balm in a gel formula is one of the smoothest ones I’ve tried. A neroli hand and body lotion (meant as a lighter companion to their super popular vitamin B5 body moisturizer), and vetiver hand wash round out the spring offerings.
So spring clean the crusty bottles from your medicine cabinet and toss some Malin+Goetz in there.