In 2008, Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow launched a small weekly newsletter which gave lifestyle advice to subscribers from an alternative medicine perspective. She called this newsletter Goop. Twelve years later, it is a massively successful health and wellness company worth around $250 million. Goop now has its own line of products (including makeup, fragrances, supplements, and furniture), a print magazine, a podcast, and even its own wellness summit. And while Goop has been criticized for making pseudo-scientific claims about health and wellness, Paltrow is clearly doing this for the right reasons.
She recently carved some time from her busy schedule to talk with one of my favorite websites, Create and Cultivate, about why she started Goop and how it has become so enormously successful.
“A lot of the success is rooted in the authenticity of what we were trying to create,” Paltrow explained. “I was passionate about wellness and food and great product, but I didn’t think I had the authority to run a business. We were content only for a very long time, and out of that content came a need, determined by our readers, to curate incredible products to go along with our stories. We started very slowly, with one-off collaborations with brands we loved, which always sold out right away.”
She went on to say that developing Goop was a slow and careful process—one that evolved over the course of seven years.
“Once we’d built a strong multi-brand assortment, we realized that we had the authority and the white space to create our own efficacious, well-made products. But it was all very organic, and it took a long time. We started the business in 2008 and we didn’t fully realize the business model until much later, starting in 2015 when we took venture money.”
Goop employs about 80 workers, and Paltrow is their boss. When it comes to managing people, she says she tries to foster a work environment conducive to creativity and risk-taking (not unlike a movie set).
“I’m a perfectionist, and I can be very demanding of myself, which is something I’m trying to work on personally. I expect a lot from my team but in the same respect, I try to lead with empathy. I want my team to feel that they have autonomy and to cultivate an environment where people can take risks, be collaborative and not feel paralyzed by the fear of failure.”
Sounds like a good management style to me. If only all bosses thought that way.
Asked to recall the best piece of advice she has ever been given, Paltrow responded with three simple but powerful words:
“Never give up.”