It’s easy to hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Not only does she have that blue-blood Hollywood background, but a killer figure, a handsome rock-star husband, two beautiful children, a multi-million dollar movie career and permanent place atop the best-dressed awards at just about every red-carpet event she attends. And did we mention she also has an Academy Award?
While she’s one of the most famous stars in Hollywood, lately is has been her tech pursuits keeping her name in the limelight, and not always in a good way. Her uniquely named website, Goop.com, is adored by many who love getting a look into the life and lifestyle of such a famous person — and reviled by others who believe the site shows the star has a Marie Antoinette, let-them-eat-cake attitude that’s oddly out of step with today’s economic challenges.
But, traffic is traffic and whether you love her or hate her, her website gets millions of views a week, mainly from single, college-educated women between the ages of 25 to 34 who want insight about how she lives and what she thinks.
She took a few months off and her team created an app so fans can shop and read her pithy updates on style, travel food and fun on the go.
The Woman Behind the Site
On Thursday, she sent out her 200th issue of Goop, a site she started four years ago to “share all of life’s positives.”
“From creating a delicious recipe to finding a perfect dress for spring, Gwyneth began curating the best of lifestyle to help her readers save time, simplify and feel inspired,” the website’s mission statement reads. “Determined to publish a genuine and resourceful issue each week, for many, Goop has become their most trusted girlfriend on the web.”
Of course, when you’re wealthy and famous like her, you don’t live a cheap life, something her website reflects. For example, she advises her fans in the 200th issue to celebrate her milestone with a holiday feast of smoked trout on rye hors d’oeuvres, roast pumpkin soup in the pumpkin — which she describes as being “as delicious as it is adorable” — grilled radicchio wedge, salt baked sea bass, crispy lemon potatoes, turkey osso bucco and Parmesan polenta– a fairly elaborate feast to celebrate the anniversary of a blog.
And what really matters from the food recommendations are the pairings from Cameron Hughes wines. That’s because you can buy them through a Goop link, and of course, Paltrow and the website collaborate with the wine company.
But Goop isn’t all about selling expensive goods or giving its visitors a fantasy life. She takes her work seriously and believes the website can help others live healthy lives as well. She turned to clean living after her father, director Bruce, died from throat cancer after years of drinking vodka and smoking, according to an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. She said his death spurred her to do better.
“All I’ve learned about nutrition and health came from his cancer,” she added. “I’ll probably have a long and healthy life because he didn’t.”
Healthy pursuits take up much of her day, including an hour and a half of dance aerobics and a precise series of exercises that changes every 10 days, or taking part in a 12-week detox program to rid of her body of “toxins” like gluten, dairy and sugar.
Goop, which brims with health advice, shows the heart of what guides her life including her recommendations on diet, exercise, skin care and what to buy. Unlike other celebrities, she doesn’t just lend her name to a product and collect a paycheck. She’s highly involved in the site and its associated apps, which include city guides to places like London and Los Angeles.
“Everything I’ve done has been completely organic, and that’s why the brand is a strong brand, because there is no ulterior motive behind it,” she says.
And her husband of nine years, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, is hugely supportive of Goop. While he continues to record and tour worldwide, her career — except for a role in “Iron Man”– has been in a standstill since 2005. She and Martin trade-off child care, and though they have a nanny, she makes sure she’s home to bathe them and cook dinner.
It’s Not Easy Being Gwyneth
Even after Paltrow started Goop in 2008, it’s been one of the most mocked peeks-behind-the-scenes online, and she admits there have been times she’s almost pulled the plug on it.
She also defends her site fiercely, saying that “people are so mean to me, but I don’t care” when it comes to keeping the site alive among complaints that it’s woefully out of touch with today’s world.
“There were a couple of times when I thought ‘I’m just going to stop doing it,” she told the Guardian. “But then I was like, ‘Who cares what some lame person out there says?’ Any time you do anything with any degree of sincerity, people make fun of you. That’s totally fine. I don’t care. I don’t read any of it. My thing with Goop has always been, if you don’t like it, then don’t log onto it.”
Criticism Mounting Over Goop
Last summer, Goop shut down for a long-overdue revamp, and reopened ready for e-commerce. Each week, Paltrow endorses a product she loves, made by exclusive designers and labeled by the designer’s name and “for Goop.”
She models the item and chats blithely about how great it is, and presumably rakes in money when people buy her newest find. This could be a gamble since online shoppers are notoriously frugal and usually looking for a good deal, but Goop is not the place you want to look for something cheap.
A simple white t-shirt, which she describes as something “we like to wear this untucked” goes for a cool $90. The jeans to go with it? $200. So while she insists her site is to help people reach their potential, these items and their high prices enforce the idea her site is fun to laugh at, but harder to trust — a difficult place to be when you’re trying to get people to send you their credit card numbers.
But people are shopping online more than ever, and shoppers now prefer to settle down on the sofa, boot up their laptops or tablets — lists in hand — and browse online rather than in front of ornately decorated panes of storefront glass. And this counts for people who can afford $90 t-shirts and $200 pairs of jeans, as well as others looking for cheap bargains.
It’s a matter of perspective, and in her wealthy world, a $90 t-shirt is like a $10 top to anyone else. It’s easy enough for a woman of wealth to buy, and it’s aspirational for the not-so-wealthy. Either way, such items — and the controversy they generate — bring traffic and well-heeled advertisers to Goop, and even more money to her bank account.
Adding Apps to the Mix
Goop’s City Guides App, sold through the Apple store for $4, brings in-depth, authentic travel information to such cities as New York, London and Los Angeles. And while you may be turned off by the price, nothing is cheap in her world, and if you want what she considers the best, you’ll pay for it.
Apps are a genius move for the Goop brand. For just a few bucks, people can see how the rich and famous travel through the five-star restaurants, the shopping centers and entertainment meccas. In addition, if you’re traveling to those countries, and you want to see the best places, the Goop app promises to deliver that — a boon for people who have money to spend and like the better things while they’re traveling.
With the iPhone and iPad part of many travelers’ gear these days, it’s little surprise an app like City Guides came out, feeding off Goop’s popularity, and even if only a fraction of them buy the app, at $4, that’s a lot of money coming into the company’s coffers.
So What If You Still Hate Her?
Paltrow is doing what few other movie stars have done, spinning her star power into a cohesive personal brand. Aging doesn’t help generate job prospects for an actress, even one like her, with all her looks and connections.
But with Goop’s weekly look at the lifestyles, name dropping and purchasing power of the rich and famous, she gets to stay relevant. Even if she never makes a movie again, there will likely be people who want to live vicariously through her lifestyle.
And if you don’t like her, she won’t drop the site anytime soon. She told Harper’s Bazaar that she doesn’t care about critics. True, people who insult her and her site won’t stick around to buy anything, but, as she said, there are plenty of others who care what she has to say — and what she has to sell to them through her brand. ♦