By Cristina Cuomo
Gwyneth Paltrow is undaunted. Her passion for—and perseverance in—her wellness business, Goop, has made her an industry leader. And, as purveyors of health here at Purist, we are in awe of her forward-thinking, always interesting ideas. She puts the pillars of wellness to work—from natural beauty concepts and clothing to nutritive and sexual wellness—to create an empire valued at over $250 million. The 48-year-old Oscar-winning Paltrow proves that a holistic path leads to juvenescence-winning. And I’m not just talking about her rockin’ cover-worthy self. Here, the mother of Apple and Moses, and wife of producer Brad Falchuk, shares the secrets to her sweet success.
Cristina Cuomo: After so many years of investigating wellness, having launched Goop in 2008 as an email newsletter and then written five cookbooks, has your view of wellness practices become more detailed or simplified over time? How so?
Gwyneth Paltrow: The true tenets of wellness are rather simple: good sleep; regular exercise; whole, nutritious foods; etc. The complexities of modern life make it a little harder. We’re exposed to chemicals and environmental toxins without realizing it, and quite often, when women voice concerns about how we feel, we’re ignored or told that it’s not something to worry about.
But the wonderful thing about wellness is that we have more autonomy over our health than many of us realize. It takes more work and self-education, but it’s worth it to feel good. And we’re lucky that many of us have access to incredible doctors and leading institutions that take a more functional approach to medicine and are doing the research to back it up.
It’s also impossible not to recognize the privilege in that. There are so many people who are subject to environmental racism or live in food deserts or are getting by on subsistence wages and cannot afford the time or the money it takes to exercise this autonomy. And even people who might be able to spend the time or money to make different wellness choices in their day-to-day lives often don’t have access to these doctors and specialists, whether because they can’t afford it or their insurance won’t cover it.
That’s partly why I started Goop. While these are larger systemic issues, my hope is that our content gives some of these people access to different ways of thinking or doctors and experts that would normally be out of reach.
CC: Has it surprised you that you are as well-known now as an actress as you are for helming a wellness empire?
GP: I’ve always been the friend people would ask for a recommendation, whether that was for a holistic doctor or a tapas restaurant in Spain. And since I was little, I’ve been deeply curious. So as much as this is a departure from my old life, it feels like what I was always supposed to do. When I had my daughter, I decided I wanted to take a step back from acting and focus on her, and I was lucky that I was in a situation where I could do that. It also gave me the distance to think about what I truly wanted to do when I reentered the workforce.
Goop had humble beginnings, though, so it is surreal to see what it’s become. At the beginning, it was literally just me at my kitchen counter sending out recipes and tips on MailChimp. And for many years, we didn’t sell any products. We only introduced commerce when we realized that there was a service element our readers were missing: They wanted to buy the things we raved about without leaving the site.
We still take that service approach to everything we make. Our content asks questions, and we try to make products that help answer those questions.
CC: What are the latest Goop and G. Label products you’re working on? What facets of wellness will Goop be exploring more in the future?
GP: I’m obsessed with our G. Label collections. If you see me walking around Amagansett this summer, the chances are high that I’ll be wearing at least one G. Label piece. We make the clothes in Italy and the U.S. in the same factories as runway brands, but because we have a direct-to-consumer model, we can offer our pieces at prices that are more attainable than designer. Almost nothing is over $1,000.
We’ve always been outspoken about female pleasure and erasing the shame around female sexuality. We came out with our own double-sided wand vibrator earlier this year, which originally sold out in 24 hours. We finally have it back in stock, and we’ll launch more in the sexual pleasure category this year. Love, sex and relationships are also the focus of season two of our Netflix show, The Goop Lab, which is coming back next year.
CC: Do you ever feel like you need a break from wellness, and if so, what does that look like? Is it a big bowl of french fries or another guilty pleasure?
GP: Someone recently asked me on the SmartLess podcast what my vice was, and days later, everyone was reporting that I’d hit the bottle and “admitted to eating bread” during quarantine. But joking aside, I do love good food, and enjoying food is a big part of wellness for me. If I want to indulge in an evening of guilty pleasures, I’d probably go for french fries and Japanese whisky.
CC: You have introduced so many wellness practitioners to the world through self-exploration—in mind, body and soul. Is there something you are exploring right now, and with whom are you working?
GP: I’m currently working with Dr. Will Cole, whose book, Intuitive Fasting, we published earlier this year through our goop book imprint. I did a bunch of tests and found out I had high levels of inflammation and mold toxicity in my body, so he has me on an intuitive-eating plan. Luckily, a lot of the recipes are super delicious, like scallops with bacon and crispy capers.
CC: Who did you learn the most from in the wellness field?
GP: I have learned most from Dr. Alejandro Junger, who was the first functional MD I ever met. He introduced me to the world of the elimination diet, tuning in to understand what is right for your body. He was so on the cutting edge, even then. He was the first one to talk to me about the microbiome, adrenal fatigue, etc. I did the clean program when he was hand-filling little vitamin pouches before it was a thing.
CC: What was your favorite thing to do as a family this past year of lockdowns?
GP: Long family dinners have been a true silver lining of lockdown. Before COVID, we were all running around trying to juggle different obligations. The absence of those other priorities gave us the leeway to get into long conversations and just be together as a family.
CC: What is the biggest misconception about you?
GP: That I don’t eat bread.
CC: You are hilarious and stalwart in The Politician! You should run for governor of California now! Are you and your husband [producer Brad Falchuk] developing other projects together?
GP: Not currently, but you never know. He has a lot of bargaining power, so when he wants me to act in one of his projects, I usually give in. He’s a brilliant writer and producer, so it’s always fun to work together.
CC: Out of all the roles you’ve played through your career, what character do you identify with the most?
GP: I wouldn’t say I identify with her the most, but Margot Tenenbaum will always be one of my favorite roles.
CC: Looking to the future, since you’ve dipped back into acting, do you have a role that you’d like to tackle, a side you’d like to reveal in a performance that you haven’t yet, and if so, what would that be?
GP: I’m laser-focused on building Goop right now, but acting was my first love. In the past, I’ve seen scripts or characters and had such a deep, instant connection to them that I had to pursue them—even if I didn’t end up getting the role. If I’m really called to a piece of material, I’ll know it. But in the meantime, honestly, as boring as it may sound compared to being a movie star, being the CEO of Goop fulfills that for me.
CC: Have your children picked up any wellness techniques of their own?
GP: Apple loves making smoothies. She’s always been into makeup—she’s so much better at it than I am—and she’s recently been getting into skin care, too. She uses our GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion moisturizer every day and is always raving about it, which makes me so proud. She’s one of our early testers for goop products.
CC: Does your mother [actress Blythe Danner] take wellness advice from her daughter? What is her current favorite Goop product?
GP: She’s so natural and effortless and always has been. But she does love our GOOPGENES skin care line, especially the face and eye creams. They’re super nourishing and firming.
CC: Best advice you’ve ever been given?
GP: Always forgive yourself.
CC: What—and where—are you happiest doing in the summertime?
GP: Spending the day on the beach in Amagansett with my family.
CC: You’ve spent a lot of time in the Hamptons throughout your life. And Goop is now a destination store at 4 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. What do you cherish about your time out East?
GP: Long walks to the water, fresh fruit and vegetables from the farm stands, and seeing old friends that we get to reconnect with in the summer.
CC: We both know it’s very easy for naysayers and skeptics to take potshots at the wellness world. What keeps you committed to discovering and offering insights to your followers?
GP: We hear from so many women that something they read or bought on Goop has had a profound impact on their lives—that could be reading an article that prompted them to ask their doctor a specific question, listening to a podcast that improved an important relationship, or discovering our postnatal depletion supplements that help them feel normal again after giving birth. There’s so much knowledge out there, and life is better when we’re in pursuit of our best selves.