Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is very serious: a second extensive profile in weeks on the company’s expansion is out in Fast Company, an ode to how hard the actress has worked and how far her lifestyle brand has come.
This piece is more specific than the last, clarifying that—as you might has suspected if you enjoy close-reading—that the barn referenced in Racked’s piece on Goop, with its “soaring ceilings and rustic wood floors,” is actually on Gwyneth’s land in Los Angeles. As has been reported before, Goop is in the process of getting ready to launch things like a skincare line in 2016, with the help of Lisa Gersh, the former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO (pictured above with Paltrow) hired last year. Reporter Anjali Mullany gets the goods on Gersh’s split from Martha, pointing out that even her good work there got her into trouble:
“I went to Martha Stewart with the purpose of creating contextual commerce,” says Gersh, referring to the strategy of allowing audiences to shop seamlessly as they consume content. But her efforts to bridge the editorial and business arms of the struggling empire—and enable buying through storytelling—were unsuccessful. “It’s hard because of traditional beliefs about content and traditional beliefs about commerce,” Gersh says. “It’s hard to change cultures.” Though Gersh oversaw a massive restructuring and helped grow MSLO’s digital ventures, a product-side deal she helped broker with JCPenney resulted in a high-profile breach-of-contract lawsuit between Martha Stewart and Macy’s. By Gersh’s own account, she and the company were never the right fit.
But according to Goop, things are looking good at Goop: “...revenue in the first half of 2015 was up 62% over the same period the previous year.” (You can learn more about the rest of the very Goopy team on Goop’s website; the dress code for their staff photoshoot appears to have been “black blazer.”)
Mullany’s reporting leads one to speculate that as magazines like Lucky are trying (and failing) to successfully monetize the line between commerce and editorial, lifestyle brands led by personalities like Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba, Blake Lively and of course Paltrow, are taking over where more traditional magazines have left off, with only a dash of a “lean in” reference necessary:
What attracted Gersh to Goop was Paltrow’s belief that editorial could be merged more seamlessly with the shopping experience. “The brand had what I think are the important components to contextual commerce,” Gersh says. “The recommendations have to be what you actually believe in, or it doesn’t work at all. And you need to have an audience that’s leaning in, in order to make it work.”
For example, take this description of how Gwyneth works with her team. As was the case in the Racked piece, there’s a heavy emphasis on how hands-on she is, just “like the head of a traditional magazine would” be:
Paltrow is surprisingly hands-on as a boss, overseeing Goop’s editorial team much like the head of a traditional magazine would. She leads brainstorming sessions with the L.A.-based edit staff—sometimes in the Goop office, but often while lying on the floor of her Brentwood living room “hanging out with the dogs and the kids,” as Loehnen puts it, or sitting around the kitchen table. (Weinstein often joins, to ensure that the product and edit teams are in alignment.) Paltrow approves all story ideas, as well as screen grabs of articles and visual spreads; she sends back “incredibly specific” notes, says Loehnen, before anything gets published. Paltrow is equally involved on the commerce side of the business.
Though Paltrow is so hands-on, in juicier, less broad strokes, she reveals that not only did she not invent “conscious uncoupling” (we know!), she didn’t even title her Goop piece about her breakup with Chris Martin that: her editorial director Elise Loehnen (who came from magazines—her first boss was the founder of Lucky) was responsible for that comparison:
“When I announced that I was separating on the website, [Loehnen] titled the piece ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ and I had no idea,” Paltrow says. The Internet erupted in a swarm of jokes—and Paltrow knows that such moments can be a little scary for her staff. “When something like that happens, I think everybody is like, ‘Oh, shit,’ “ she says. “I just tell them that I think we are creating interesting discussions.”
Just like any other internet publication dealing with a firestorm!
For her part, Loehnen then goes on to bring gun control into a discussion about the value of a piece on vaginal steaming:
Paltrow also defends Loehnen for having written the vaginal-steaming piece. “This is a thousands-of-years-old practice in Korean spas,” she says. (Loehnen stands by the recommendation, too. “It feels good, it’s not harmful—it’s not like we’re urging people to go out and buy AK-47s,” she says.)
Lastly, Gwyneth throws her feminist weight around one last time, addressing speculation that she might stop acting entirely as a way women’s goals and aspirations are suppressed:
“I’m a big believer in the ampersand,” she says. “I don’t see it as I’m leaving something behind, I see it as this year I probably won’t make a movie or I probably won’t do a TV show or a play, and I’ll focus on the business. It’s our tendency to want to put women in one little category,” she continues, making a pinching gesture with her hand. “That’s where we like them.”
Don’t keep a good Goop down! (As Gwyneth says on the website, “I’m all goop all the time, baby. For better or worse.”) It’s alignment between editorial and commerce is our future.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Eric Rademacher/goop via Getty