Gwyneth Paltrow is nothing like you think she is. Gwyneth Paltrow is exactly who you think she is. In the end, none of this fucking matters, because she has never been anyone but herself. Thank God, because here's who Gwyneth is to me: a vital friend, generous with her knowledge and passions. An ass-kicking cook, but you already know that if you follow me — or anyone else — on Instagram, because her recipes are obsessively tagged. An engaged mother who sees the humor and beauty in child-rearing. And a determined businesswoman who demands that no female question her own value in the marketplace.
On that last note, Gwyneth has been our trusted adviser from day one. She took my and Lena's calls day and night to counsel us on foreign concepts like ad sales and back end. She huddled with us in the corners of parties to firmly (like, using a lot of profanity) explain to us what retaining ownership of your own company means, both practically and on a bigger scale. She's been in the newsletter business for eight years, and she imparted every bit of hard-earned wisdom to us as often as we asked. She's also a goddamned delight.
We are so excited to feature her in our entrepreneurship issue because she is the definition of a strong woman running her shit. As she once said to me, she left a perfectly good day job to start Goop. And some days she still wonders why. Which is, of course, her prerogative. And ours is to be so grateful that she did.
Below, Lena and I talked to Gwyneth about the nuts and bolts of starting a business from your kitchen, how to scale up while still keeping your authentic voice, and, of course, steaming your vagina.
Jenni Konner: You told us you sent the first Goop email from your kitchen in London. How did you describe Goop? If someone said, "What is this thing in my inbox?," how would you have explained it then?
GP: I don't know why I started it. There's an aspect of my life where I just follow these threads. I've always been that person for my friends, where they ask me, "I have a guy coming over for dinner. How do I roast a chicken?" Or, "Where do I get a wax below 14th Street?" Or, "Where do I get a cool poster?" I had this incredibly fortunate life where I was getting to travel and work all over the world. I always had notebooks where I'd jot down, like, where's the best pizza? I'm in Naples, let me go try them all. So I had all of this information, and it was originally going to be a tiny database for my friends so they would stop fucking calling me.
Then, some part of me thought maybe there are other people in the world who want answers to the same questions that I want and that my friends want. Then it organically turned into Goop.
I think I would have been absolutely stumped if you asked me "Why are you doing this?" in 2008. I wouldn't have been able to tell you why, and there have been many times over the years that I've been doing that, that I'm like, "Why am I doing this? This is totally excruciating and unrewarding, and really painful, and everyone hates it and hates me."
JK: How many people did you start with?
GP: Just me.
JK: Just you, in your kitchen, writing an email.
GP: Yes, and making the recipes and writing them down and sending them out.