Goop’s Noora Raj Brown On Having the Hard Conversations That Make Change
On this week’s episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, host Yasmin Nouri talks with the executive vice president of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, Noora Raj Brown.
Brown started working at Goop when the company was still in the early, hectic stages, moving from a weekly newsletter Paltrow would send out to her friends to a multinational publishing and lifestyle brand.
At the time, Goop’s advice, guides and features about beauty style and wellness, were tackling difficult issues like divorce, sexuality and health in very personal terms.
“So much of what we do at Goop is to push conversations into the mainstream and to talk about things that, frankly, people don't always want to talk about,” she said. “And these are hard conversations, right?”
Brown, a daughter of immigrants, grew up in Silicon Valley and always considered herself a creative, even though her parents were hopeful she’d take a more conventional professional route. “It was like, very much medicine and tech, and I wasn't interested in either,” she says. Instead, her interest veered toward fashion.
After earning her degree, she moved to New York City to work at a fashion magazine called Details, where she got to learn quickly about how designers function and how garments are produced and promoted — but the job didn’t come easy.
“A lot of it was really like finding your path, feeling really lost for a long time. And I think I also had this idea that I would come to New York and I would start interviewing and get a job,” says Brown. “And that would sort of be it. And I didn't realize how insanely competitive it was.”
Brown moved on to work in talent PR where she organized photo shoots, coordinated the angles of stories and then at a fashion and style publication called InStyle during a time when it was in the process of being sold to a new owner.
“There was a feeling of like, you couldn't win,” Brown says. “You're operating from a place of fear; you're not able to be your best self, right?, and you're not able to produce your best work.”
In 2016, when Brown made her way to Goop, there was no in-house communications or legal team, no HR and, from Brown, terror. “I sort of felt like, I was the first line of defense for anything negative that happened to the business,” she says.
The experience left her feeling unqualified, but she said Paltrow’s confidence in her made Brown more confident in her own abilities.
“I think we all just need to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt a little bit,” she says.
Brown’s personal journey, in many ways, mirrored Goop’s mission to push unconventional conversations into the mainstream. Brown says Goop has faced some backlash for its stories, but she says she feels strongly that important topics shouldn't be taboo, and adds that it takes honesty and courage to make change.
“If you're really going to, as we say, [...] milk the shit out of life, you need to do that,” she says. “As I said, operating from a place of real pride, but also real bravery is super important.”
Engagement and Production Intern Jojo Macaluso contributed to this post.
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