Goop CEO Gwyneth Paltrow likes her martinis shaken, not stirred-and with a dash of collagen mixed in.
I watch as Thea Baumann, the food editor of Goop, Paltrow’s lifestyle company, sprinkles white powder into a cocktail glass. Baumann holds court in the lifestyle brand’s test kitchen, where baskets full of fresh ripe fruit sit atop an expensive marble counter. “You can’t really taste it,” she explains of the skin-enhancing supplement she picked up at Whole Foods, “but it gives the drink a little… texture.”
Baumann is planning the menu for In Goop Health, Goop’s first foray into the conference space, which has become increasingly popular among media companies and brands in recent years. The Goop conference is the latest extension of Gwyneth Paltrow’s expanding lifestyle empire, which includes retail offerings spanning dresses to perfumes, Paltrow’s cookbooks, and a much-talked-about website that dispenses advice on everything from sex to cooking, travel to fashion.
“GP loves her dirty martinis,” says Baumann as she adds two olives to the drink.
These supposedly youth-enhancing cocktails, and other Paltrow favorites, will be on heavy display at the company’s June 10th conference in Los Angeles. The one-day symposium will serve guests a wide variety of experiences and lectures curated by the Goop CEO, ranging from meditation instruction to athleisure shopping to celebrity talks and sessions with alternative healers.
“We have incredible access to the best doctors, wellness experts, chefs, and products,” claims Paltrow, “and we knew that our readers would find an interactive symposium like this hugely valuable.”
Online And Offline Collide
I’m at Goop headquarters, stationed in nondescript and unmarked concrete bungalows off a side street in Santa Monica. Inside, a cursive millennial pink neon sign reads “goop” in all lower-case letters, the only marker of its name. I see a dozen or so employees who seemingly received the effortlessly chic Parisian style memo: skinny jeans, a simple billowy top (with a few stripes thrown in), and flats. They have mastered the all-natural beauty look: No one is wearing lipstick.
It is shockingly quiet, like a doctor’s office or a digital detox retreat. No one looks anxious or frazzled to catch a call. Either these people are too busy to interact or they all are overly zen from practicing the site’s meditation write-ups. It’s slightly intimidating, yet also intriguing: They all look so put together. I feel compelled to speak in a whisper.
That no seems stressed about pulling together such an ambitious event in under two months speaks volumes about the staff. Perhaps that’s what Goop does so well: make product launches and content, as her cookbook title claims, look like it’s all easy.
In a way, the Goop conference will be a real-life version of scrolling the lifestyle brand’s website, where readers might encounter a highly recommended natural face cream or a spiritual healer’s advice. The difference is, of course, you’ll have to pay for the summit, depending on how close you want to get to Gwyneth. In Goop Health offers three tiers of ticket prices: clear quartz ($1,500), amethyst ($1,000), and lapis ($500).
The top two level tickets include access to an exclusive evening cocktail party hosted by Paltrow. The Crystal Quartz ticket also grants access to an intimate lunch where one can sit alongside Paltrow and her A-list panelists.
It might sound like a hefty price tag for a conference to which participants are encouraged to wear yoga pants. Conferences and events are nothing new; Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Forbes, and of course, Fast Company are just a few publishers that hold their own annual gatherings.
As the leader and chief guinea pig of the site, Paltrow has become a cult-like figure among those who share her approach to personal health–and to her fans, thanks to her glowing looks, style, and popular recipes. Meanwhile, of course, Paltrow has plenty of detractors who ridicule the New Age advice she and her team dispense on goop.com (a jade egg for your vagina, anyone?). While the conference is a collaborative effort between Paltrow, Goop editors, and the ad sales team, it is very much a conference based on her vision. Most traditional media conferences don’t boast in-house leaders with as much star power as Paltrow, who has scored an Oscar and countless magazine covers over the years.
As Paltrow explains it, her summit will bring Goop to life in a tangible way. Fans can try out for themselves the many (often expensive) therapies and exercises her editors dutifully write about. This isn’t the first time her brand bridged its online efforts with the offline world: Goop has, in the past, produced pop-up stores. But this new endeavor lets consumers test-drive more of Goop’s advice for themselves, rather than mostly just buy Goop-approved merchandise.
Her first conference is focused around wellness because that category is her website’s highest source of traffic–so much so that last month, the company launched Goop Wellness, a collection of nutritional supplements for women. Though the brand took plenty of heat in the press for moving into the controversial vitamin market, its product sold $100,000 worth of orders just on launch day. Goop is doubling down on the health sector and plans on releasing more wellness-focused initiatives down the line.
Paltrow envisions Goop as something between a trailblazer and a trusted friend you turn to for recommendations. “We’ve always been a lighthouse for wellness content that starts important conversations and pushes new ideas into the mainstream,” she says. That’s one way of putting it–after all, had you even heard of “vaginal steaming” before Gwyneth became its poster girl? Her summit, Paltrow says, is a response to what her audience increasingly requests: access to more wellness content.
“We constantly hear from readers that some of the stories change their lives–they bring our questions and answers to their own doctors, request specific tests, and ultimately end up solving a medical mystery in their own life,” Paltrow claims. “Our readers crave more of that category, so delivering content, programming, and products is a major focus for us.”
What Does Your Aura Look Like?
In Goop Health won’t just feature Paltrow’s personal doctors and trainers. Goop is going big. The event will kick off with panels featuring A-listers Cameron Diaz, Tory Burch, Nicole Richie, Lena Dunham, and Girls executive producer Jenni Konner.
Not all panels will be run by Hollywood celebrities; many will be hosted by names recognizable to loyal Goop readers and professionals familiar with the who’s who of the wellness industry. Esther Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist and author of “Mating in Captivity” (also known as “the new Dr. Ruth”), will lead a talk on how to achieve a more fulfilling sex and love life. Dr. Alejandro Junger, one of Paltrow’s doctors and a detoxification specialist, will discuss how to live a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Habib Sadeghi, a holistic integrative physician who also happens to be Paltrow’s mentor (and co-creator of the term “conscious uncoupling”), will also speak.
Authors Dr. Barry Michels and Dr. Phil Stutz are doing a panel on The Tools, a solution-based psychotherapy practice Gwyneth uses daily. That’s one the Goop founder is particularly excited for.
“The fact that our readers get to experience this live is a game changer,” she says. “I’m so excited that I’m moderating the panel.”
Basically, everyone involved with the conference has a connection to or has been personally vetted by the Goop CEO. “This is our A-team,” says Elise Loehnen, Goop’s head of content, of Paltrow’s cherry-picked panelists. “There’s really nothing we do as a brand that she’s not involved with. This [summit] is one of her babies.”
The panelists’ reputations vary. Some, like Esther Perel, are lauded by outlets like the New York Times. Others, like Dr. Alejandro Junger, have come under heavy criticism for alternative medical practices that lie outside of conventional Western medicine and sometimes lack scientific evidence. The merits and validity of these panels can (and are) debated for their various philosophies, but none will be administering one-on-one advice or treatments at the summit. They will be there more in a group format, expounding on ideas. Don’t show up hoping they’ll whip out their prescription pads.
In addition to the panels, a medley of “experiential offerings” will offer guests some time to relax. A typical attendee afternoon might include a sound bath with gongs and “singing bowls,” a shaman-led crystal therapy session, some chill-out time in the meditation lounge, and aura photography. The latter was tested last year by Paltrow, who sat down to have a photographer capture the electromagnetic field surrounding her body.
These sessions sandwich the heavier topics like unfulfillment and anxiety, an intentional move. The health-focused panels might be a bit overwhelming, says Loehnen, so the more “fun” experiences help round out the day. “This could become a very intense experience, which is what some people want,” Loehnen says, but in case you need a break, you can always go have your tarot cards read while Goop’s in-house shaman, Colleen McCann, assigns you the best crystals to redirect your energy.
Participants who favor less adventurous offerings can get their hair done or a manicure from organic nail color line tenoverten. Taryn Toomey will teach her cult-favorite workout, The Class–a mixture of high-intensity cardio, mindfulness, shaking, and screaming–to relieve stress.
“Our reader is multifaceted,” says Loehnen. “She wants a little taste of everything.”
Alignment expert Lauren Roxburgh is a longtime Goop contributor who became famous for her foam-rolling workout. Her Goop article “The Secrets of The Pelvic Floor”, went viral in 2015 (thanks in part to the post’s recommendation that women pee while standing in their showers). The author of Taller, Slimmer, Younger trained Paltrow in private sessions over the years, but at the summit Roxburgh will instruct a communal class on how to elongate muscles, improve posture, and relieve tension with what is ostensibly a very pretty massage log.
Have you rolled out your hips today? #tbt ???? shoot with the talented @collinstark & @jessicastark_ @underarmourwomen #tuesdaytip ???? As if we need more reasons to roll ????New scientific research suggests the rolling may have a neurological effect, changing how the body perceives pain. Researchers believe foam rolling may trigger a release of the pain relieving, happy hormones called oxytocin and serotonin. A recent study found that self-myofascial treatment, in addition to home exercises, was found to reduce cortisol levels and increase heart rate variability. This indicates an activation of the para-sympathetic nervous system, crucial to healing, optimal recovery and decreasing stress. #fascia #foamrolling #bealignedforlife #happyworkout #fitfam #fitmama #science #mindbody #holistichealth
How In Goop Health Is Bringing In The Green Stuff
Goop set up two ways for brands to connect directly with participants during the summit: a food hall featuring each brand’s favorite culinary vendors and a pop-up store hawking Goop and sponsors’ products. Tory Burch Sport athleisurewear, travel essentials from TUMI, and Sun Potion powders are a few of the brands on board.
On the activation front, Bai Brands, a line of antioxidant and superfruit drinks, will provide the mocktails for lunch. Tropicana, jumping on the healthy gut bacteria craze, will release its new collection of probiotic juices. Tito’s gluten-free vodka will serve as the alcohol sponsor.
“We try to find brands we would truly cover from an editorial perspective and then work backwards,” says Kim Kreuzberger, head of brand partnerships and sales at Goop. Despite the obvious blending of sponsors and editorial experiences, she stresses the company will be sensitive to that “nothing feels forced or over-commercial within the environment.”
Readers of Goop are already accustomed to the integrated content that oftentimes recommends products sold directly on the website, many them produced by Goop. That such an advertorial experience is being presented IRL shouldn’t come as a shock.
“We built our media business by partnering with brands that we love and use in our daily lives–nothing that we do in terms of sponsorship feels like we’re undermining our brand,” says Loehnen, a former Conde Nast editor. “They’re all products that we believe in and would encourage friends and family to buy.”
Loehnen, along with the rest of the marketing and sales team, are hopeful readers will quickly fill the 500 available summit spots. If so, Goop definitely plans on launching more conferences in the future.
“I’d imagine we’d do more,” says Loehnen, who foresees moving the summit to different cities or even doing it digitally. “We want to reach as many people as possible.”
As for the cocktails? They’re still figuring those out.
Before I left the Goop kitchen, Baumann mentioned she was debating whether to put a charcoal-infused cocktail on the menu. Charcoal, with its detoxifying properties that allegedly absorb toxins, has quickly become a trendy new addition to the food and beverage industry. Baumann’s main concern was that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing. “[The liquid looks] so black,” she sighed with a laugh, “but then again, will it take the alcohol out of your system while you’re drinking?”
She seemed to quickly internally debate the question, before ultimately declaring, “Gwyneth will have the final say.”