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Vivian Chun

Brown Fashion Week’s fifteenth finale event featured the one and only Gwyneth Paltrow.  Moderator and Fashion@Brown President Sasha Pinto ‘21 spoke with Gwyneth about her revolutionary lifestyle and wellness company Goop, her role as a female CEO, and Gwyneth’s entry into the world of business.

Gwyneth began with a discussion on her transition from world-renowned actress (Yes, Ms. Pepper Potts herself) to savvy businesswoman. She listed “insane self-belief” as a requirement for any entrepreneur entering the business world and credited her creative side with the visions necessary to make it.

“All artists are at heart entrepreneurs. They spring from the same DNA,” said Gwyneth.

She went on to explain how she funneled all of her creativity into acting as she launched her career starting in high school, often looking to her mother, a Primetime Emmy and Tony award winning actress, for inspiration. The inclination toward entrepreneurship came later, but Gwyneth found that books about business, like Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, were “more dramatic than any movie script [she’s] ever read.”

Starting as a simple, homespun newsletter, Goop has now transformed into a $2.5 million dollar company focused on “connecting people to great things to optimize their lives.” Gwyneth emphasized Goop’s encouragement of curiosity. 

“We want to eliminate the shame in asking questions. We’ve always embraced ourselves as the iconoclastic trailblazing member of the [wellness] culture and we’re not afraid of any backlash that comes with asking those questions.”

Goop stands at the forefront of the wellness industry. Over the last thirteen years, Goop has emphasized the importance of autonomy over your own health and wellness. Gwyneth stressed the notion of her customers as “participants in their own wellness” and the “huge appetite for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness” that Goop promotes.

Gwyneth went on to describe the struggles she faces as a female CEO and how she and women around the world “expect companies that come into the world to resonate with us and mirror our values.”

“We have to work twice as hard and drive ourselves twice as much.”

Despite the hurdles she faces, she credits Goop’s success with being able to “find content before people know they need it” and the company’s honest intentions to help others. Also, the often hilarious and racy product names and subject lines, that seem to pique the interest of consumers and newspaper headlines, don’t hurt.

“People may not expect this, but irreverent humor is at the core of who I am,” said Gwyneth about the wit central to her brand.

Gwyneth assured us all that along the way she too has made “many mistakes” on her “fantastic and interesting” journey of growing Goop. She explained how she uses mistakes as an opportunity to learn about herself and stresses the importance of not resting on certainty.

Imparting on us a load of wisdom, Gwyneth elaborated on her habit of cold calling professionals. She explained how many of her best mentors came from cold calls and gave us some great tips.

“[It is] always good, in the email, to clearly state who you are, where you’re from, where you go to school. Be succinct and be very clear about what your ask is, brevity and specificity. Also, be brave!”

In closing, Gwyneth gifted us mere mortals with some legendary advice, especially geared towards seniors preparing to enter into the world at this strange and uncertain time.

“Be yourself. The more that you can act in accordance with your truest self and have the courage to speak from that place, the happier you’ll be.”

As for the future, Gwyneth assured us that she and Goop will not be slowing down. Upcoming collaborations, an expansion of Goop’s ghost kitchen, and maybe even an entrance into the world of CBD may be in the future for the company. I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more from Gwyneth, actress, entrepreneur, CEO, and icon, very soon!

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