Gwyneth Paltrow Speaks Out About All That Goop Controversy
The founder and CEO gets brutally honest about integrity, relationships, and the lessons she's learned the hard way.
These days, Gwyneth Paltrow seems to elicit a reaction from the world that is normally reserved for very effective politicians. Those who love her are undeterred in their devotion and loyalty—and those who disagree with her do so at fever pitch, with a seemingly visceral reaction to her and to everything she does. And the rift between the two groups seems to be growing wider and more difficult to traverse with every passing day.
Except, we're not talking about a figure who can spin the world into nuclear war or economic collapse here. We're talking about a celebrity who has built a career acting and thriving in the public eye, and then taken a step back before embarking on a second act, building a business that marries content and commerce, with a focus on women with disposable income looking to spend money in service of wellness and self-improvement.
And, what it was like to grow Goop from what she calls a "very naive, kind of earnest newsletter" into a contextual commerce offering including a media property, ecommerce offering, eponymous products, experiences, and even pop-up shops.
For instance, what is it like to walk into a boardroom to pitch venture capitalists when you are a celebrity and household name? "It goes like this," she says: "So, I go into the room, and for the first 90 seconds, I'm Gwyneth Paltrow. And they're like 'Oh my god, my wife loves you, I love The Royal Tenenbaums, whatever.' And then, about 90 seconds later, I'm just getting grilled, like anyone else.
"And actually, it was such a beautiful chapter of my life when I started raising my Series A, because it knocked me down so many pegs. I was like, 'Oh, I'm like no one. I'm nothing. This shit is real.' I have to know the most granular aspects of my business and be able to defend it. The celebrity just completely drains out of the room. It's irrelevant."
In the latest episode of Girlboss Radio, she goes much deeper on how she runs her business, how she protects the culture of her company to ensure she has "a team that is engaged and happy to be at work," and some of the most painful lessons she has learned through experience.
She gives us her personal definition of "success" and how she thinks about the small victories in any given day or week laddering up to that idea. And she talks about all the jobs she had as a teen in retail and hospitality—and the important lessons she learned from each of those about respect and communication.
And of course, she addresses the controversies that have faced Goop in recent weeks and months, most recently culminating in a lawsuit filed by watchdog group Truth In Advertising, challenging the marketing of some of the products sold by Paltrow's company.
On the show, Paltrow defends her company and their work, saying, "We're very clear on what we're doing. We stand behind everything we do. But unfortunately, people who are critical of us sometimes get attention for being critical of us. It gives people a platform." Considering the criticisms of Goop that have run in many publications recently, she continues, "I wish that people would actually read the article or do their homework before they are vitriolic about it. A lot times they're not even addressing what's on the website. [Especially because] we encourage discussion and we love the back and forth. And we love different points of view."
Which is a nice parallel to the simile of politics and the chasm between supporters and detractors. Surely, there is some civil discourse to be had here—especially considering the fact that women are flocking to $3 trillion "wellness" industry for very real reasons.
Some of those reasons stem from bias and omissions in medical research, some stem from the difficulty many women have getting medical professionals to take their pain seriously, and some stem from the fact that Eastern medicine and many alternative therapies have real roots in science. That doesn't mean that this writer has any intention of shoving a jade egg into her vagina, but it does open a door for conversation.
Words: Neha Gandhi