The crisis that set the wheels in motion for the eventual launch of such oddities as psychic vampire repellent, at-home coffee enemas, as well as 18-karat gold dumbbells, involved gelato.
It was 1999 and Hollywood superstar Gwyneth Paltrow was filming psychological thriller The Talented Mr Ripley in Venice when she had an understandable craving for ice cream.
Now, the Italian floating city is not known for its shortage of such snacks, but the Oscar winner didn’t want any old choc-chip sundae; no, she wanted the very best. And despite the presence of a quarter of a million Venetians, she had no idea who to ask.
A similar thing had happened the previous year in London on the set of Shakespeare in Love when she’d fancied a coffee. The final straw was during a shoot in Paris when she needed a recommendation for where to get a bikini wax.
“I’ve personally been steered wrong so many times,” she says, “I unwittingly became the recipient of phone calls from friends saying, ‘Where should I eat here? Where should I go?’ so I started collating all this information.”
Fast forward nine years and Paltrow had squirrelled away enough tidbits to start producing a weekly newsletter from her kitchen table in London. She called it Goop – the first and last letters being her initials, and the middle two because someone advised her that successful websites often have a double ‘o’ in their names.
The first missive contained recipes for turkey ragu and banana nut muffins.
“Goop was originally going to be just a private database for my friends,” she says. “I had access to such interesting people by the very nature of my job, so it came about as a place to share information and ideas.”
And it may have remained a homely and modest venture for her cohort, had Paltrow not bumped into one of her followers, venture capitalist Juliet de Baubigny, at a party. At that time, the actor had no idea what venture capital was, but was intrigued when de Baubigny told her she should be making money from her growing fan base of women who hung on her every word about healing amethysts, steam cleaning and mushroom protein while dreaming of experiencing even a tiny slice of her rarefied existence.
Once upon a time, they had wanted to be Martha Stewart, but by then, her eponymous ranges were in Macy’s and Kmart, so the hunt was on for someone more aspirational.
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