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Malin + Goetz CEO Sees Opportunity in Disruption to Ramp Store Growth

The company is to bow its first mall-based door at Westfield Century City Friday.

Simple packaging, natural products, a eucalyptus deodorant and unisex roll-on oils with names such as cannabis and leather have helped Malin + Goetz get to where it’s at now: 10 of its own stores; a line in select Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom doors; partnerships with more than 100 upscale hotels and boutiques, and it serves as the amenity partner for Delta Airlines. Chief executive officer Brad Horowitz sees more potential as the brand boosts itself at retail.

The ceo was in town ahead of the Westfield Century City store — that’s door number four for the Los Angeles area market — opening Friday, with two more in the works for later this year: Hong Kong in June, followed by expansion into Northern California.

Horowitz likes the cadence of between three and four store openings annually moving forward, but it’s a balancing act he’s mindful of.

“We have to be very strategic about how many stores we’re putting out there because our customer likes shopping online, too, so I don’t want to overdo it,” he said. “We have to find that right balance. Right now we have retail in London, New York and L.A., so there are still some cities we’re missing. This is not going to grow to 100 stores because I don’t think we have to. We just need to find those pockets that are important to the beauty market.”

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From there, the idea would be to open five or six doors in each of those key markets, he said.

Westfield Century City is important as it reflects Malin + Goetz’s first mall-based store. The company has typically sought street retail for its apothecary-esque shops, complete with at least one piece of furniture found by the company’s founders, Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz. For Century City, it’s an antique cabinet found in Hudson.

“When Andrew and Matthew started the brand, they started with one store in Chelsea, which was a neighborhood apothecary and they still have that mind-set and we love being that neighborhood store,” Horowitz said. “But this [Century City] seemed like a really interesting opportunity because it’s such a high-profile mall. We wanted to make a statement.”

Malin + Goetz Westfield Century City
Malin + Goetz at Westfield Century City. Courtesy Photo

Horowitz, most recently the president of Amorepacific North America before joining Malin + Goetz as its first ceo in December, has also clocked time at L’Oréal USA and Clarins USA. He’s spent the past few months focused on building awareness for the brand as the company has boosted its social media presence, introduced a new eye gel last month and readied the business for store growth.

“If you think about where all the trends are — founder-owned brands, ingredient transparency, naturals, accessible price points — obviously the skin-care market is hot,” he said. “For me, what’s exciting and validated the reason I joined the company is that I feel like the brand checks so many of those boxes, so then the issue is amplification and how do we get out our brand story so people hear about it in an authentic way. I would say the last four months have been about just telling our brand story in a louder way that’s on-brand to our existing customers where it’s something they recognize but it also attracts a newer customer.”

Placement of products from the line, such as its peppermint shampoo and conditioner in venues such as upscale gyms and hotels, has also served as the backbone to the business, Horowitz said, and that will continue under his leadership. He teased a “nice announcement” of a fitness partner due out around the end of the summer that will continue to grow that business for Malin + Goetz.

The wide-scale shifts in the industry are making much of this happen, the ceo said, and Malin + Goetz is now one of many beneficiaries in a landscape of relatively new entrants.

“Early on, for most of my career, when you walked into a department store, the size of those bays of Lauder or Lancôme was the defining moment for the customer. Size defined trust. It’s big, therefore I trust. You don’t have to be a big brand to gain trust and loyalty now, and I think that’s the biggest difference in the market — not just skin care, but in makeup and fragrance. Small brands can become large brands very quickly and gain trust through social media and reviews.”

Much of the changes taking place in the industry weren’t even happening when Malin and Goetz first started the business 14 years ago, he pointed out.

“I joined a small company and we can become whatever we want,” he said. “The barrier to entry 10 years ago was enormous. It was hard to get into the beauty industry. That’s why I give Matthew and Andrew a lot of credit because when they started, this world was a lot different then. Now you read every few minutes about a new brand. It’s really fun because anything’s possible if you have a great idea, a great product and you can connect with the consumer in a social way.”