Lisa Gersh, CEO of Goop, the lifestyle brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, sat down with Women in Retail Leadership Circle’s Taylor Knight after speaking on the leadership panel at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit (WIRLS) last month. Here’s what Lisa had to say about Goop, career changes and, of course, the Summit.
WIRLC: Goop started as a lifestyle website and now has grown into so much more. What was the strategy behind the transformation?
LG: Gwyneth started this back in 2008 to answer questions that her friends were asking her. Then, it was a blog. She grew it when she was living in London, and in 2011, realized the things she was talking about were having a real impact. People were starting to take action based on what she was saying. She started making some recommendations and they started making an impact.
In 2013, when she moved to the States, she asked me to join as CEO. What I saw was an opportunity to blend content and commerce, which I had always really wanted to do. I tried to do it in a variety of places, but the technology wasn’t right or the culture wasn’t right.
I think today’s consumer, and today’s woman in particular, is so used to seeing something and then taking action. Rather than closing a window and taking action someplace else, they can take action on Goop.
It’s a very curated experience. It’s very authentic and has a lot of authority in a bunch of different lifestyle genres — home, travel, food, fashion and now beauty. We launched our skincare line on March 2. It’s doing incredibly well. We sold out of the night cream and the discovery set in the first week.
I’m really excited as we build out the different verticals within lifestyle — our own products and continuing to recommend great products we find and love.
WIRLC: What’s your vision for Goop’s future and how do you plan on getting there?
LG: Well, you know, it’s not hard — well, everything is hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would be doing it. We look at where there’s a white space, where do we have the authority to fill that need? Then we go after it.
WIRLC: Goop is centered on women and is led by women. How does Goop help other women-led businesses?
LG: For me, when you look at what Gwyneth did — she had an incredibly successful acting career, had a different passion in her and decided she really wanted to pursue that passion.
Starting businesses is hard, so whenever you see another woman start a business, I always think that’s a great role model for women. Also, when you see someone have the courage to make a change in what they were doing, even if they’re successful, to me that’s so inspiring. We should all reach for the things that we want to do, and not worry about “I was successful at this, will I be successful at that?”
I made a big career change when I left being a lawyer after 15 years and started a television network. I had never worked in media before; that was a big jump.
I don’t get asked the question as often as Gwyneth. I think people are surprised that someone who’s a very successful actress would leave acting to start a business. I don’t think they’re as surprised that someone would leave a legal career. But, I think when you see people make those changes and take those steps, it’s really inspiring.
WIRLC: There are many powerful women at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit. What’s your advice to these women?
LG: I don’t know if I have any advice to powerful women, but I think what I would say to them is show your vulnerability. I think it’s really hard when people look at someone like me or any of the other women here with really successful careers. They feel they can’t really relate.
Allowing people to understand that you may be this powerful person, but when you go home at night, your kids are still crying and the dog still needs to be walked. All these things happen in your life that happen to regular people. That’s important to know.
WIRLC: What’s your biggest takeaway so far from the WIRLS?
LG: I think it’s the shared sense that we all experience very similar things. Being able to talk about them with other women is wonderful.