There are certain key values uniting their consumer audience across the globe. “Our customer is very different from your typical ‘beauty junkie.’ When you ask them about their interests, it’s food, travel, design, and architecture. Somewhere in the middle of the list, they’ll get to beauty,” Horowitz comments. In line with this more laid-back approach to cosmetics, the amenities business, a place of unexpected chance encounters with products, has built another core strategy. “It has to be doing the right thing first, before the sales opportunity. We're where the customer feels like we should be, that includes being in the right hotels, department stores, especially retailers. If we do those things correctly, then the revenue will come,” he adds.
Expanding in an authentic way is one of the most challenging premises for brand founders. For its leading team, that translates into smaller scaling and a carefully curated selection of business partners. “It has to be doing the right thing first, before the sales opportunity. We find the right partners, and we're where the customer feels like we should be. If we do those things correctly, then the revenue will come,” Horowitz comments. “It’s a very difficult position to be in as a small business, to stay really focused on who we are, not being too big or too small. That means building stores, designing products, development, our concept, it really hasn't changed a lot in 18 years. And that feels really good,” Malin adds.
Seven years into their working relationship with Manzanita Capital, Malin and Goetz have found a harmonious division of work with Horowitz, enabling the founding duo to direct their focus on all aspects of product development, marketing, and creative direction. “Having an operational team in place that allows us to grow, develop, and have an economy of scale, which is ultimately important for a beauty or grooming business because of your price point, has been essential. It has allowed us to remain competitive,” Malin comments.
To best understand the drive behind their successful expansion, one has to go back to the brand’s foundations. Created in 2004 by cosmetics buyer Malin and design marketing director Goetz, the brand was a response to Malin’s personal battle with skincare issues. Between his personal struggles and Goetz’s keen eye for design, a straightforward yet stylish brand was born.
Launched from their NYC apartment, products were created in the context of metropolitan living—and the need for space-saving, shareable, and multifunctional products that come with it. Akin to their retail identity, there is a tie-in to the past, namely the apothecaries of yesteryear, which have a longstanding history, but always maintained the concept of a trusted neighborhood advisory for any of life’s medical or cosmetic woes. “The whole concept was, how did an apothecary operate in our grandparents’ time, and what does it look like today. This wasn't about being a man or a woman, or being dry or oily. This was about having an issue, going someplace local that you trusted, receiving a product, and having it be a great experience,” Malin states. “Within the beauty industry, we’ve over-marketed to people to believe that they need 1,000s of things, that it’s very specific to you in particular.”
In fact, he claims that about 90% of the customers walking through their doors have normal-to-combination skin, but simply used too many products and therefore sensitized their skin to certain ingredients. “If we can take it back to 100 years ago, to some of those tried and trusted ingredients that we all know work, and then really modernize them in ways that allows things to be that much more productive, positive, and beneficial to the skin through very gentle technologies that don't need to experiment or harm you, that’s the concept,” he states.