If you know anything about Gwyneth Paltrow’s public life aside from her acting, you will have heard that she runs some sort of lifestyle brand called Goop. The New York Times Magazine has a delicious feature story on how much money Paltrow is making from monetizing her flakiness. Excerpts:
The Goop campus in Santa Monica consists of four squat gray buildings, where in June a diverse group of about 200 young, exuberant, well-dressed people were working hard to plan the coming weekend’s event, the In Goop Health wellness summit. G.P. sat at her desk behind the glass walls of her office, which was spare and also decorated in shades of gray. Her golden hair fell over the paper she was reading. She was wearing a tank top, shearling-lined white Birkenstocks and Goop x Frame wide-legged palazzo jeans. Back when she wore them at Harvard, I’d never seen anyone else wear them. Now she was making them, and everyone else I knew was wearing the same style.
We ate salmon hand rolls. She was trying to be low-carb today, but it wasn’t happening. There was too much going on. The wellness summit, a daylong immersion in Goop-endorsed products, panels, doctors and other “healers,” was a “heavy lift for the team.”
“It’s intense, man,” she said. She reached behind her to her bookshelf, which held about a dozen blue bottles of something called Real Water, which is not stripped of “valuable electrons,” which supposedly creates free radicals something something from the body’s cells. “It’s insane, and then I have to do a lot on the day, and I really don’t like speaking in public, and I have to keep getting up in front of a crowd.”
The summit is great, don’t get her wrong. All three so far have sold out, with tickets ranging from $500 to $4,500, the highest of which included two dinners with G.P. plus two nights at Casa del Mar. But lately she has been wondering if the summit does everything it needs to. She worries that she’s just serving the same customers over and over. She met a woman who took a very long bus ride from she thinks rural Pennsylvania to the Goop summit in New York in January. “Seventy-nine percent of our American customers aren’t in New York or Los Angeles,” where these summits are held, she said; they’re in secondary markets.
The company started in 2008 with a newsletter Paltrow wrote telling people about products and services she liked, plus sharing recipes. “Goop” comes from her initials bookending “oo,” because somebody told her that successful companies had “oo” in their name. More:
The newsletter was at first kind of mainstream New Age-forward. It had some kooky stuff in it, but nothing totally outrageous. It was concerned with basic wellness causes, like detoxes and cleanses and meditation. It wasn’t until 2014 that it began to resemble the thing it is now, a wellspring of both totally legitimate wellness tips and completely bonkers magical thinking: advice from psychotherapists and advice from doctors about how much Vitamin D to take (answer: a lot! Too much!) and vitamins for sale and body brushing and dieting and the afterlife and crystals and I swear to God something called Psychic Vampire Repellent, which is a “sprayable elixir” that uses “gem healing” to something something “bad vibes.”
Read the whole thing. You won’t want to miss the kook G.P. promotes who says women ought to put jade eggs into their whatsits to protect against uterine prolapse.
Oh, and get this priceless anecdote. The piece’s writer, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, is in the kitchen with Paltrow in her California house. Paltrow is cooking something simple for them. You’re thinking: she makes it look so easy:
G.P. asked what I would like to drink. I asked for a glass of red wine. G.P. gave the nod to someone over my left shoulder. I turned to see Jeffrey, the same man in a shawl-collar sweater who opened the door for me earlier. He nodded back.
“Is he your butler?” I whispered to her when he was out of earshot.
“No, he’s a house manager,” she said. She doesn’t know what she’d do without him. “He’s the best. He’s from Chicago. He’s so incredible. He helps me with everything.”
She’s got a butler. This effortless life G.P. has is paid for.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a good writer. By the end, you can see why people hate G.P., but why they give her their money anyway.