Shower Habits Lead to a Business

A relationship with a bar of soap turned into in a high-end skin care venture.
  • Transcript


Question: What’s the story behind (Malin+Goetz)? 

Andrew Goetz: I was the ultimate minimalist. I washed my face, body, hair and shaved with a bar of Neutrogena. You know, a very clean rectangle square. 

Matthew Malin: Yes, and I was a beauty buyer for Barney’s when it was a family-owned and -operated business, so I had thousands of things available to me that I couldn’t use and I’d bring them home. We knew each other maybe for two years at this point and eventually Andrew started to see that something more than just a bar of Neutrogena soap made a difference. And sometimes—when he would sort of vet the various different items—I would be able then to try something as it was my job to evaluate in the first place that might in fact be appropriate for my particular skin type.  

Andrew Goetz: I think what I learned is, or my evolution was that it doesn’t necessarily have to be more expensive, but there are definitely differences in quality and you use a better product, you have better results. But I also found from just a design perspective it was baroque out there. There were so many steps. It was very intimidating and I’m a firm believer of less is more, not only in architecture and design, but also in your whole lifestyle that you don’t need to do 150 different things just to get out the door. The fact of the matter is we live in New York and our customers live in urban centers. They don’t have time for ritualistic ten step programs, which aren’t even efficacious anyway. 

Matthew Malin: But most interestingly Andrew is quite oily and his skin is fairly resilient. Mine is dry and quite sensitive. I had suffered from several different existing conditions and what we found through the years was that in fact there were only a few things that were really effective for both of us and it wasn’t a complicated understanding of these expansive ideas of skincare. It was really a great cleanser and a great moisturizer. And when you started to then look at Neutrogena as a company and you start to look at three-step Clinique and these very simple ideas; if you can create sort of the best cleanser and the best moisturizer, you’ve really established the core of what you need. 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah, you don’t need a tertiary product if you already have the best. 

Matthew Malin: Yes, so those were the real voids that we saw in the marketplace and I think that we’ve hit home in most of them. 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah and also there was a void... There were very few unisex brands, you know most people, so it was an amazing opportunity to literally add 50 percent to your market by being unisex and the fact of the matter is whether you’re a man or woman or whatever your ethnicity is, we’re all basically biologically the same. So this whole idea of marketing that you’re from here, you’re from there and you’re masculine, you’re feminine... is sort of marketing. 

Matthew Malin: It really came down to the idea of how a modern couple could shop for and use products together. Somebody with oily, resilient skin, somebody with dry, sensitive skin and it didn’t matter what your sex was or your race or et cetera, et cetera, that you could share these products and that they would be really effective and really great. 

Andrew Goetz: And even your skin type, whether the pendulum skews one way or the other, most people are somewhere in between and have a combination of different skin conditions on their face, which can change with hormones, with age, with weather, with seasons. It’s always a moving target, so... and we try to address all those things in a way that other companies haven’t done. 

Question: Did you notice a big difference after you stopped using the Neutrogena bar? 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah. I did as a matter of fact. 

Matthew Malin: Doesn’t he look great? He is like 80 years old. 

Andrew Goetz: Almost, but not quite. Thank you very much. Sometimes I feel like I’m 80, but yeah, no, you do notice it and you feel better. 

Question: What’s the secret to a successful brand? 

Matthew Malin: I think that there is a lot of passion behind the brand in terms of how it connects with the consumer. That it’s real. It’s not just another corporation creating a brand for the sake of marketing. We really tried to do something that was special and unique and fill a void in the marketplace and to do something from a family-owned and -operated approach, something that was local and interesting and specific to our customer base. 

Andrew Goetz: And I think also what makes the brand so strong is that we really put so much energy into creating really superior or great products. And people, when they experience some that efficacious, they come back and they tell other people. So while we’re not advertising and having great marketing campaigns, we have this great guerilla or word-of-mouth campaign because people use everything and they love it so much and we’re also really true to the brand. We don’t develop things because the season is saying this is in vogue now or this is in vogue tomorrow. We develop products that we really believe the market needs or that we would actually use. I mean, most of the products were developed around our own lifestyle to a certain extent. 

Matthew Malin: I was going to say the same. I was going to say the same. That we in fact, in terms of filling voids, part of it was addressing our own specific lifestyle in terms of those particular voids, so most of the products and the brand itself really speaks to how we live our lives every single day. And those experiences from Andrew’s design background and those experiences from my beauty background, and how we could create something really wonderful and unique and fill these sort of marketplace voids that made a difference in a way that we would use them ourselves because we needed or we wanted them. 

Recorded on March 19, 2010