This is a watershed moment. Remember my last rant about Gwyneth Paltrow? She is indeed a celebrity many love to hate because she appears to be so disconnected from Everyday Woman. But after reading in Fast Company about her recent efforts to expand her Goop brand into a real business, I’ve actually come to – gasp! – respect her? That doesn’t mean I have to like her, right?
What I have come to realize after reading the story is that she is pretty out of touch with middle America… because she’s not middle class! Never has been, never will be. The primary tenet of marketing is know who your target audience is. She appeals to like-minded individuals who can afford her lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that. Good on her for capitalizing on it. That’s what smart entrepreneurs do.
And after reading what she had to say about how and why she started Goop, I really see now that her business started from intentions that were very honest and good. She was seeking ways to live a really solid, happy life, in every way: through health, fashion, food, spirituality… And because she couldn’t find a single source that spoke to this topic in a way that resonated with her, she decided to write about how she was doing it. She just honestly wanted to share her positive experiences with people through an e-mail newsletter. Over the years, as the business evolved, she realized that Goop was facilitating the sale of big brands to the tune of millions of dollars, and thought, “Hey – I should be getting a piece of that action!”. So I admire her “un-womanlike” attitude of not allowing herself and her brand to be taken advantage of.
Another thing that really struck a chord in me was her genuine desire to make it work because she now has investors with expectations:
It’s my main job. I’ve made commitments to people and I’ve taken their money, so I’m going do everything in my power to make sure that the brand scales.
And like any smart businessperson, she understood she alone didn’t have the capabilities to grow and scale the business. She hired people with relevant experience to manage the business, but remains a very involved founder to ensure that the business always has the Gwyneth stamp on it and remains true to its roots. I respect that. It’s a model I aspire to as I seek to find my next entrepreneurial venture. It’s pretty powerful to own a brand that is so well defined for you that you will absolutely not compromise its integrity.
In the Fast Company story, her editorial director talks about how people become converts of Goop:
“That’s the general trajectory,” Loehnen tells me. “People are resistant, and then someone gives them her cookbook and they’re like, ‘These recipes are kind of amazing,’ and then they become fans. Generally, when people experience the site, they’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t want to like it, but I loved it.’ ”
I’m a little afraid to visit the site myself now…!