Beauty Store Business magazine - January, 2020

Q&A With Erin Cotter of Goop at 'Wellness in the Beauty Space'

Beauty Store Business dropped in at “Wellness in the Beauty Space” presented by Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) at the historic Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month. One of the featured panelists, Erin Cotter, senior vice president of beauty at Goop, gave us an exclusive interview before the evening festivities.

Beauty Store Business: You have an impressive background in the beauty business working for corporate brands, what drew you to Goop?
Erin Cotter: I was actually an entrepreneur before I worked in the corporate world, so I have entrepreneurialism in my essence. I was drawn to Goop because I wanted to get back to those entrepreneurial roots, and I was also drawn to the values and mission of the brand. My mom has actually been into health and wellness since the 70s, when I was young. It was always something that was part of my upbringing and something I was passionate about. Goop is really at the forefront of wellness and holistic living. It was an opportunity to align my work with my personal values. Also, from a professional perspective, Goop is essentially building a new and unique business model. It was incredibly exciting to be a part of doing that. On the more corporate side, we were looking at brands like Goop that were disrupting the traditional. To actually be part of that disruption was really intriguing to me.

What do you think is at the heart of the wellness movement and how it has merged into beauty?
It’s interesting because like I just mentioned, I think it has been an evolution. This idea of natural living has really always been there…people are now reacting against this “busy-ness” moment. People are stressed, burned out and tired. The whole idea of wellness is taking a holistic approach to beauty. People are no longer thinking, "I can just put on a moisturizer and everything is going to be okay." If you are stressed out and you’re not sleeping or eating well, you are not going to look your best.

Do you think beauty consumers are looking for real solutions?
I think they are looking for broader solutions. For beauty, in particular, it used to be about what one would apply topically. It was one-dimensional. Now we are learning or realizing that if we sleep properly, or take a minute to exercise or a moment to meditate or enjoy an essential oil before taking a shower—it’s actually going to have a greater effect on how we feel, which will, in turn, impact how we look.

What criteria must a third-party brand or a Goop product meet to be sold in Goop’s Clean Beauty Shop?
The standards are similar whether it is third party or our own. We have a long list of ingredients we screen against—anything known to be harmful to human health. We want you to feel confident that you are making the best choice for your health.

It sounds like customers can trust any product sold on Goop is pretty clean?
Yes, our standards for clean are really high. We know it is not an exact science. We know there’s a lot of gray. What’s so interesting about this moment in time is that there’s so much more innovation in the space. You don’t have to sacrifice performance anymore. You can use a clean product and it is still a fantastic product. That’s the second piece of how we build our merchandising assortment: We partner really closely with our editorial team. So part of the uniqueness of our business model is the contextual commerce. We have a team of merchants—and we have an editorial team. Collectively, we evaluate products around these kinds of questions: Do we love them? Do we want to use them? Do they do what they say they will do? Are they unique and special? Do they have their own point of view? Is it a wonderful experience to use that product? And we test and try every single product that we use. We believe in everything we do. That’s part of why people trust us. We didn't do a financial analysis to say we need another lipstick. Actually, we put every lipstick on the table and tried them all! All of us went and used them.

How do you incorporate wellness into your office culture?

It’s cool that we get to integrate the actual principles of Goop. For example, we had a session with Bob Roth around Transcendental Meditation. We have done foam rolling with Lauren Roxburgh. We had Dr. Alejandro Junger come in and speak to us about detox in January, which is detox month. We get to experience firsthand some of the things that we write about, which is really fun for everybody.

What do you think will be the next big thing in clean beauty—or at least big in 2019?

I think one of things is that more and more women are drawn to it. There’s so much more innovation in this space. There are so many more retailers in this space. The product itself is amazing and there are so many more places to find it. That coincides with the fact that there are more women that want it. It is still niche. I really see this year it going to the next level. Target is involved, Sephora is involved. You’ve got Follain, Credo and Detox Market—all interested in ingredients.

Image courtesy of CEW. [L to R]: Erin Cotter, SVP of Beauty, Goop; PriPriya Venkatesh, SVP of Skin/Hair Merchandising at Sephora;
Martha McCully, MMc Media; Shrankhla Holecek, Founder and CEO, Uma Oils; Walter Faulstroh, CEO, HUM Nutrition