As Netflix brings The Goop Lab into our lives co-host Elise Loehnen tells us Goop’s secret for success and reveals what’s coming next after that vagina candle…
It’s been 11 years since Gwyneth Paltrow launched Goop, her wellness and lifestyle company, starting out as a weekly e-mail newsletter providing new age advice, such as ‘police your thoughts’ and ‘eliminate white foods’. The A-lister turned CEO was mocked for her alternative views, but has since proved critics wrong. Today, the brand has a cult following and covers everything from books, beauty, candles (‘This Smells Like My Vagina‘ candle launched in early January 2020, immediately sold out and will be restocked on January 25), fashion, food and annual wellness summits (think panel talks, yoga classes and sound baths). Now with Paltrow’s six-episode Netflix series, The Goop Lab hitting Netflix from Friday, 24 January, Elise Loehnen, Goop‘s Chief Content Officer and co-host of the show talks to Olivia Adams about psychedelic drugs, self-care and Goopy misconceptions.
How did you get the job at Goop?
I was a magazine editor in New York for a long period of time. It was clear the industry was heading to a digital era, so I moved to Los Angeles to create editorial for an Internet shopping comparison search engine. I wanted to learn about the Internet, as I didn’t feel at all equipped to meet the future. I learnt so much – like what people using the Internet respond to – but after a while I missed working on a brand. And it was there that I realised how hard it is to build a brand – it’s much simpler to create a business on the back of one.
Throughout my career I have co-written books, and I began working on one for Tracy Anderson. Gwyneth owned part of her studio business, and I had also agreed to write copy for the fitness class descriptions. I had a phone call with Gwyneth to discuss the content and I thought it was crazy that she was on the phone with me! I was taken with her level of dedication and interest to the studio. When she moved back to Los Angeles from London, I met her in person to talk about scaling Goop‘s content.
Were you already a fan of the brand?
I thought it was bold and interesting and I found it incredible what she had built off a not very technologically advanced site. Goop was only a couple of years old, but it had captured peoples’ attention and I saw potential.
When I went to her home for the chat, we sat on this incredible rug on the floor. I’m not sure why we did this, but I was relieved because I’d had a baby a few months ago and didn’t fit into any of my clothes, so I decided to focus on my shoes. I had an idea of what she was going to be like and thought she would judge me – of course that was not my experience at all. But it was a shoes-off house, so I had to abandon the main point of my outfit, but I hadn’t had a pedicure so I was relieved to sit on the floor and hide my feet. A couple of months later, when it became clear that we were aligned in how we thought, I joined the brand.
What is the secret to Goop’s success?
It’s easy for people to say a celebrity brand’s success is because they are famous, but the reality is tonnes of celebrity brands have failed. Yes, it’s easier to get attention, but getting people to commit to you and take action on your suggestions is another level of engagement. Goop‘s unique perspective on the world is the secret. It has become quite iconic.
Critics have said the show is ‘designed to shock’ – is that a fair observation?
[Laughs] Yes. There is content in the show that will be very surprising to people who have never really encountered Goop. Equally I think people will wonder why Goop is sometimes labelled controversial, because there are respected experts and doctors and scientists on the show. We explore things we don’t yet know about or understand, but we make clear that we don’t know.
Are there potentially harmful therapies being performed?
No, not harmful, just experiences – like energy healing – that we don’t necessarily understand why they work yet. Before Reiki became more mainstream it was scrutinised, but now it used as a therapy to heal in some hospitals in Los Angeles.
You play a large role in the show. Is there a particularly memorable activity or moment that has stayed with you?
Doing psychedelic drugs on camera was definitely a first for me. I did mushrooms in Jamaica with some other members of the Goop team. That episode is the closest to my heart, not just because of the vulnerability we express, but because psychedelics show a tremendous amount of promise in the treatment of PTSD, and there is so much mental illness around the world. The idea that something could be available to dramatically positively impact people is poignant.
What is Gwyneth like as a boss?
I’ve learned so much from her. She didn’t grow up in a corporate culture, so never inherited bad habits – for example ‘I never had this growing up, so you can’t have this’. We have a ‘straight speaking’ culture. Instead of talking behind each other’s backs and venting, we have to go to the person directly, regardless of where they are – above or below – in the company, and express yourself to them. By listening generously it means you have the intent of having your mind changed. It’s our method for dealing with conflict and that’s how we grow, get better and stay healthy as an organisation.
Do you always agree with Gwyneth – or has there been a clash over thoughts on anything from a therapy to a product?
[Laughs] There are times when we say, ‘I don’t know if the world is ready for that’, but her curiosity is one of her defining qualities. I have never known her to reject something outright, but she pushes to make it more distinctly Goop. She’s an incredible role model for women. She’s resilient to people who want her to stop talking. She’s so brave and continues to stand up for what she believes in. She has a fearlessness we all really need in these times.
Goop first started as an insight into Gwyneth’s routine, what is a typical day-in-the-life like now?
She’s really good at taking care of herself. She doesn’t say, ‘I can eat whatever I want’. She puts in the work at the gym. And she’s maintained this attitude, despite the growing needs of the brand. I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum – I have two young kids, so I am not a paragon of self-care as much as I would like to be. But we both do our best. It’s not about perfection; no one can do everything perfectly.
What is your can’t-live-without Goop product?
That’s easy. The GoopGlow glycolic overnight glow peel [£112.00]. I use them once a week and my skin adores them. They’ve replaced facials for me – which I don’t really have time to get anyway!
The majority of Goop’s products are expensive – would you consider making them more affordable?
The hope is that as the business grows, our prices can meet that, as ingredients become more widely available. But we use really expensive, clean and high quality products. Gwyneth loves beautiful things, and we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the product and include any ingredients that could become harmful to health.
What is the biggest misconception about Goop?
Being defined by the media as ‘funny’ or ‘crazy’ works to our benefit, as people then come to the site to check it out. Then they learn Goop‘s content isn’t outlandish, it’s actually reasonable and makes a tonne of sense. I hope this is the same with people tuning in to the show and it resonates with them.
The Netflix series is the focus for now, but what’s next on Goop’s radar?
We’re interested in strengthening our role in the category of TV. Hopefully it’s the first of many TV shows.
All episodes of The Goop Lab will be available to watch on Netflix from Friday January 24