Gwyneth Paltrow on Goop and Beyond: ‘It’s a Process’

What’s next for Goop?

A line of food, perhaps. Or maybe a broader push to emulate the brand power of a company like Disney, which has served as “a bit of a North Star for Goop,” said Gwyneth Paltrow, the Oscar-winning actress who runs the lifestyle-and-wellness e-commerce business.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ms. Paltrow acknowledged that she had made mistakes since starting the company in 2008. Over the years, Goop has been criticized for circulating pseudoscientific claims about the potential health benefits of its merchandise.

In the company’s early days, Goop would sell third-party products and simply restate claims the creators of those products made online — some of which turned out not to have any basis, Ms. Paltrow said. Now, she added, Goop has a team of scientific and regulatory experts to vet such claims.

While she said a line of food was among a number of “options” for the company, Ms. Paltrow stayed mostly tight-lipped about the future of her business and said she really just wanted to go one quarter at a time.

The following conversation has been edited and condensed.

I want to start the conversation around when you started this company and specifically around the idea and the word ambition. Because I wasn’t sure if you ever really wanted to own the idea of this being this big ambitious company, and I feel like now you have, and I want to understand what that is.

Well, I think you know growing up as an actor in the ’90s — an actress at the time; we didn’t say actor at the time — ambitious was actually a very dirty word for a female actress. So I think we were taught to be compliant and pliable and not to be difficult, and I think if you demonstrated great ambition for a big career it was looked down upon. And then I did the crazy thing of kind of putting that down and deciding to start a business, with great trepidation.

And so, yeah, I was ambivalent about my own ambition for a long time. And even as I started to really just create content for the first five years before I even thought about any kind of monetization or anything, I didn’t think that I had the authority to create a business or to even think my way around it. So it has definitely been a humbling process to embrace my ambition and to really start to feel that being ambitious is actually a beautiful thing for a woman.

So when did you decide that you actually knew what you were doing?

It still hasn’t happened, but it’s a process. And I think I’m very comfortable running Goop. I know the business backward and forwards and I have, you know, very granular knowledge of the business and very kind of big daydreams about where the business is going, and I think I’m getting well equipped to run this particular company, but. …

O.K., I want to pivot the conversation just one second. I have sort of a strange MeToo question. I imagine you must have a very complicated view of Harvey Weinstein, given that you knew him for a very, very long time. How do you feel about him today?

I have not been asked this before. You know, I don’t like to be binary about people or about things. I think we’re all equal parts or varying percentages light and dark, and I think that, you know, he was a very, very important figure in my life. He was my main boss, he gave me incredible opportunity, and yet during that time we had a very fraught, complicated relationship, highs and lows. And the postscript to that chapter of my life is where it gets extremely complicated for me because information came to light about who he was and how he was behaving that I didn’t know during my already very difficult time with him, so I’m not sure. I’m not sure how I feel.

Final question. Tell us what’s going on with this: There seems to be some kind of back-and-forth that you’ve been having with Jeff Bezos. I know that he’s one of the few people who you’ve been trying to reach for a very, very long time, and I gather that he’s ghosted you, and I don’t really understand what’s happening.

Yeah, yeah. You know, you win some, you lose some. You know, I had reached out to him. Look, I’ve learned so much by being brazen and reaching out to people and saying, ‘Could I have a conversation with you? Would you mentor me?’ So he was one of the people who I reached out to, and he never really wrote me back. I tried a couple times, and then I told this story, I think in The Wall Street Journal, and then he emailed me back and he said it’s Jeff, and The Wall Street Journal tells me that you would like to get in touch with me, so that there began our very brief conversation because after that, yeah, not so much.

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