Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness site turns 10 this year, and here’s why experts say it’s been such a success — through controversial vaginal steaming and conscious uncoupling.
It’s been a decade of Goop.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle newsletter-turned-wellness brand turns 10 this year, and to celebrate, the company announced Thursday it will be expanding internationally, thanks to a $50 million investment that will allow it to ship to customers in Europe and beyond later this year. The Los Angeles-based e-commerce site is also expanding its portfolio with a fourth fragrance, new skincare products and a home goods line.
Goop has shown continued growth, raking in an estimated $15 to $20 million in revenue in 2016 alone, tripling revenue from 2016 to 2017. And this year, the company claims sales will increase more than 200%, a spokesperson for Goop confirmed. Pop culture experts say Paltrow has transformed the brand from a newsletter hawking her favorite healthy recipes and face creams into a wellness empire.
“She took a relatively simple idea of wellness in all of its manifestations — cooking, health, beauty products — and she converted it into content which then gets distributed through all of these different venues,” Syracuse University professor of pop culture Robert Thompson tells Moneyish. “She came up with a lot of different ways and places to talk about wellness. A lot of people think that some of it’s snake oil salesmen, but a lot of people don’t.”
Since 2008, Paltrow has attracted a cult-like following, particularly among a female audience, promoting products seemingly only the 1% could afford, like a $350 meditation band, $1,200 casserole and a luxe $6m Belize vacation. And, of course, there’s the whimsical potions like a $30 vampire repellent, an essential oil said to chase away bad vibes, and $40 Sex Dust, a powder you sprinkle in smoothies or coffees said to act as an aphrodisiac.
The site, however, has received its fair share of backlash for some of its questionable health and medical advice, like the time it suggested that walking barefoot would cure insomnia and depression. Or the time it recommended women sleep with jade eggs in their lady parts, to which gynecologists responded in complete horror. Another story laid out a weight loss plan for how to lose 14 pounds in four week that left some fans and nutritionists like Rhiannon Lambert “shocked” that it was even published.
“We would never advocate for an unhealthy diet or extreme routine,” the site told E! News in a statement at the time.
But experts say the brand has lasted for so long because it’s never strayed from its platform of luxury lifestyle and wellness — along with raising a few eyebrows.
“Gwyneth Paltrow is someone who, despite criticism, is very true to who she is and doesn’t try to be anyone else. Although you might not agree with some of the things she puts on her blog, she’s proven herself to be a serious business woman,” CNN entertainment correspondent Chloe Melas tells Moneyish. “But she can’t just rely on her celebrity status alone — you’re only as smart as the people next to you. She’s hired some pretty impressive women to run different parts of the company.”
Earlier this year, GP tapped Danielle Pergament, the former executive editor at Allure magazine, to lead the editorial team along with Instyle’s former style director Ali Pew and Lucky magazine’s former fashion director Anne Keane to run the fashion vertical.
In addition to the site, Goop has: Spawned its own Conde Nast quarterly print publication; hosted wellness summits in major cities like L.A. and N.Y.C; created a branded line of skincare, vitamins, bath soaks, fragrances and candles with a pop-up store to promote them; and most recently launched a podcast with celebrity guests like Oprah.
Whether you love it, hate it or love to hate it, here are our top 10 Goopiest moments:
Conscious Uncoupling. Breaking up is hard to do, but leave it to GP to make heartbreak sound fancy. The actress coined the term “conscious uncoupling” when she called it quits with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, the father of her two kids, in 2014. A media storm followed, with critics mocking the phrase said to describe a harmonious and mutual separation. It got so much attention when the blog post went live, the Goop site actually crashed.
The $15,000 sex toy. Turns out, you can put a price on pleasure. There’s a reason why Goop branded this sex toy as “not so basic” — it’s gilded in 24-karat gold and comes with a $15,000 price tag.
Getting stung by bees can help your skin. Paltrow talked about the time she got stung by bees — on purpose — to help her skin.
“I’ve been stung by bees. It’s a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring,” she said on the site.
It’s unclear how safe the painful “treatment” known as bee acupuncture is, considering it made headlines recently after a woman from Madrid died from it.
The claim that “Earthing” can cure depression.
Paltrow swears by “Earthing,” a.k.a. walking around barefoot (also called “grounding.”) The Goop team says it can help with inflammation, insomnia, depression and arthritis.
Vaginal steaming. This was maybe not the hottest idea. Paltrow defied doctors’ advice and went ahead and added the $55 “Devi Steamer Seat,” a device that cleanses a customer’s lady parts, essentially pumping hot water vapour up, well, you know where.
“You have to do it,” she told her readers for her “Ridiculous but awesome gift guide.”
Jade eggs controversy. Paltrow again defied gynecologists when she recommended that readers put a $66 jade stone the size of a golf ball in their lady parts. Goop claimed doing so would increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and “feminine energy in general.”
Sex bark. Sex sells, and it tastes good too. GP spiced up a chocolate dessert typically consumed over the holidays by adding pricey ingredients like $15 Moon Pantry Cacao and an even more expensive Sex Dust (a whopping $60 for a four-ounce jar). The products in the recipe total nearly $100 alone.
When GP referred to Billy Joel as William. The actress referred to the “Uptown Girl” crooner in the most awkwardly proper way when recalling a recipe for cookies.
“The summer before last, a mutual friend brought the lovely Katie Lee Joel and her husband William over for dinner. Much to my delight, she brought a fresh batch of these cookies with her,” she wrote.
Wearable stickers that promote “healing.” Goop assured readers that “body vibes” stickers target imbalance in the body. A pack of anti-anxiety stick-ons costs $60.
“While you’re wearing them—close to your heart, on your left shoulder or arm—they’ll fill in the deficiencies in your reserves, creating a calming effect, smoothing out both physical tension and anxiety,” the site wrote.
When Goop published a guide to spirit animals with $2,400 animal rings to match.
Readers were encouraged to find their real life spirit animal through meditation.
“In certain cultures and spiritual systems, there is a belief that we each travel with a cadre of spirit guides, which also includes animals,” the site wrote.
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