Gwyneth Paltrow is celebrating Goop’s first ever wellness summit in London this weekend. Her lifestyle brand is growing its presence here, having just opened a second pop up in the capital, at Harvey Nichols, following the announcement earlier this year that her first, in Notting Hill, was to become permanent.
Last year the Goop empire was valued at $250 million and one woman who has been crucial to its success is Elise Loehnen, chief content officer of Goop and co-host of the Goop podcast.
We met her over an oat milk latte ahead of this weekend’s self-care bonanza to find out exactly what it’s like working at Goop HQ and how far she’s prepared to go in the name of wellness.
There is now an army of over 200 “Goopies” working at the LA office, where there all the wellnessy perks you’d expect on offer: kombucha tastings, yoga classes, breathwork, foam rolling sessions and tarot readings.
“Food is a big part of the culture,” Elise tells the Standard. “We have a really good snack situation – it’s actually a very good place to gain a freshman 15.”
And according to her second in command, GP, as Gwyneth Paltrow is affectionately known, is a very hands-on boss.
“When she’s in LA, which is most of the year, Gwyneth comes into the office everyday,” Elise says. “She’s efficient to the point where she will workout and shower at work, she’s like an old-school investment banker sometimes.
“She is a very operational CEO and has lots of direct reports who she has weeklies with. It was a coup this year when she finally said I could send out a couple of emails that she didn’t see first. She’s that involved, to the point of picking subject lines.
“It’s great for us because you never wonder if she’s not gonna like something,” she adds.
Wellness the Goop way
So what does wellness look like for a true Goopy?
Generally speaking, Elise says it’s about wellness in moderation.
“I try to workout four times a week because I think that’s attainable. I do Tracey Anderson dance cardio (a class that featured on the In Goop Health schedule), then at the weekend I go to geriatric yoga with my friend Lauren Roxburgh. I call it that because it’s full of 80-year-olds who have been going for 20 years! It’s an hour and a half long yoga class and [the instructor] reads rumi poems and you just stretch and are in your body.”
Elise doesn’t meditate and, despite the abundance of super powders and magic elixirs sold by Goop, she doesn’t take supplements everyday. “It depends what’s going on with me at the time,” she says.
“I do have the State breathwork app. There’s a sleep exercise that takes six minutes, it’s really basic but intuitive. I do that probably four or five nights a week.
“My main thing is making sure I have time to read and making sure I don’t fall into the vortex of being on my computer the whole time.”
But it’s not all yogi-ing with seniors, as a true Goopy, she’s naturally willing to try some more extreme things in the name of wellness.
“I see an intuitive acupuncturist, I love her. She essentially does a traditional reading and puts needles in you, then gives you an intuitive reading (like a psychic medium) while your treatment is happening and you can ask her questions,” she explains.
“I think women tend to store things in their body and so I’ve also been doing some somatic yoga. Someone guides you through it, you [focus on] wherever you’re feeling tension or pain and see what comes up. It’s very peaceful and grounding but also surprising.
“When you actually stop and think ‘wait, what am I feeling?’ there’s always really interesting information there, but we are all just constantly going and not listening.
“Speaking of deprivation,” she says. “I just did the ‘ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet,’ the science is amazing! It’s all about longevity and your biological age which can be different to your chronological age.”
The five-day eating plan, which is based on research led by Dr. Valter Longo from the University of California, aims to trick your body into thinking it’s fasting by feeding you certain quantities and combinations of macro and micro nutrients that your body supposedly won’t recognise as food.
“You eat things like soup mixes, it’s boring but it’s not hard. Your body goes into autophagy and starts to consume dead and damaged cells. You could do it for weight loss but when you do something like that you typically gain the weight back, it’s really for the cell clean-out,” she says.
On the more extreme end of the spectrum, one of her colleagues, who Elise describes as “the least Goopy person on my team,” is considering an Ayurvedic ritual of “drinking her own pee” after seeing one energy healer.
“But GP was like, ‘that’s just too much for me,'” she laughs.
‘We’re not actually that edgy. People give us credit for being more out there than we are’
Since starting Goop, Gwyneth has had her fair share of criticism for her wacky self-care rituals, and the side eyeing is something her Goopies are all too familiar with.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Elise says sarcastically.
“Gwyneth has played this role her entire life, in the sense that she’s gone first and been mocked, but then people realise you’re kind of onto something, there’s a pattern recognition.
“She’s not necessarily discovering new things but she’s bringing ancient things into the mainstream. Back in the day when she began, yoga, cupping and acupuncture was insane, now it’s everywhere and is often recommended by completely conventional doctors.”
And what about the whole vaginal steaming debacle?
“To this day we have never actually written a story about vaginal steaming – it was in a spa guide,” Elise says. “It’s a traditional Korean treatment so we mentioned it as part of one of things the spa offers. That said, it’s an interesting practice and far be it from us to dismiss something that’s been a part of Korean culture for centuries.
“The vast majority of what we write about is very much part of accepted medicine and science. We’re not actually that edgy, people give us credit for being more out there than we are, but we’ll take it!”
But the wellness industry has a reputation for being elitist, and tickets for Goop’s wellness summit did not come cheap – £1,000 each to be exact – so does she think Goop needs to become more accessible?
“Most people who come to Goop aren’t buying anything,” Elise responds. “They come for the recipes, the podcast, that’s great and we’ll always invest in that knowing that it’s not the business.
“Gwyneth always says the basic tenets of wellness are free and accessible for most people: clean water, eating vegetables, walking, stretching which no one really wants to hear, you kind of want it to be packaged.
“We do these events, they’re so beautiful and transformative, it’s like a wedding. We have a 40-50 person meeting every week (in the lead-up) because there’s so much production and so many details. But as a company I think that we would love to be able to do things that are a bit simpler and bigger and more accessible, that’s the dream.”