From product testing to editorial planning and Transcendental Meditation training, no one day’s the same for Senior Vice President of Beauty, Erin Cotter. We caught up with her to find out more and to ask her what it’s like working with Gwyneth Paltrow
Erin Cotter’s CV is a pretty incredible read, with each step of her journey a reflection of her entrepreneurial flair and passion for all things beauty. Highlights (of which there are many) include launching her own company, Passport, a line of travel-inspired cosmetics in 2002, a 10-year career with brands such as L’Oreal and Johnson & Johnson and becoming VP for Global Skincare Marketing for the Estée Lauder brands, where she oversaw the $2B global skincare category.
Now as Senior Vice President (SVP) of Beauty at Goop, Erin’s duties span editorial and commercial, overseeing the brand’s multi-brand Clean Beauty Shop and own-label beauty offering. It’s a busy time for the company, with a new London pop-up having just opened and the recent announcement of Goop’s expansion into the European e-commerce market (its website delivers to the UK and Cult Beauty is listed as one of its upcoming e-tailers). We caught up with Erin to find out about the ins and outs of her working day, working with Gwyneth Paltrow (who Erin fondly calls ‘GP’) and how ‘Goop-y’ her office really is.
GTG: What made you decide to take up the job as SVP of Beauty at Goop?
EC: It’s my dream job! It brings together everything I love. I have been a reader of Goop since practically the beginning - it’s where beauty and wellness intersect and I’m especially passionate about Goop’s ahead-of-the-curve content in wellness and clean beauty.
Since I can remember, my mum has been very into health and wellness and she taught me that looking your best starts with good health (what you eat, exercise, vitamins, etc). Going back to my love of entrepreneurship (I started my own makeup brand before I joined the corporate world), I was eager to get back to an entrepreneurial environment, to be a part of building something new (at Goop we are creating a new business model based around contextual commerce). And then there was GP herself - she is super inspiring, wicked smart, curious and brave (to name just a few things).
GTG: What was your first day at Goop like?
EC: It’s always exciting and a little scary starting a new job. My first day at Goop was spent getting to know everyone. We were still pretty small back then and the culture was really close-knit and collaborative. I knew right away I’d made the right decision.
GTG: Could you talk us through a typical day?
EC: There’s never a dull moment and each day is different, which makes it really fun. We are always working on so many projects at once so a typical day involves a lot of meetings. For example, a call with my buying team in LA and the editorial team in NYC to discuss new brands we are considering and the upcoming editorial calendar; meeting with our designer and GP to review packaging designs for new Goop products; sitting with my product development team to work through challenges we may be having with new formulas in development; and brainstorming with our creative, digital marketing, PR and social teams on plans for upcoming Goop launches.
Every morning and night you can also find me trying new products—either third-party brands for consideration for our Clean Beauty Shop, or formula submissions for the multitude of new products that we’re working on.
GTG: How do you come up with the idea for a new product?
EC: We are our customer, so we think about what our unmet needs are and the dream products that we would love to have. We also get a lot of great input from our readers.
GTG: What’s the most out-there product you’ve tested?
EC: I have bags of products at home and I am always testing and trying new things. There is a slew of new products for “lady parts,” so I have been trying lots of those lately.
GTG: How ‘Goop’ is your office?
EC: Our office is pretty Goop-y. We have a consistent flow of really cool events, such as gua sha facial massages, psychic readings and training in Transcendental Meditation. The office is always stocked with healthy snacks (though it’s not uncommon to find boxes of donuts around as well!). And recently at the end of a particularly stressful meeting, we all stopped and took two minutes to do some deep breathing exercises. It totally changed the energy in the room.
Goop HQ is a reflection of the brand, a perfect mix of being both comfortable and chic. It includes a fully functioning test kitchen which always has some delicious leftovers for us to try.
GTG: What’s it like working with Gwyneth Paltrow?
EC: Gwyneth is the driving force and vision behind the company. She is super inspiring—incredibly smart, creative, and fearless. I learn so much from her. She’s super passionate about what we are doing and she is really involved in and cares about every detail.
GTG: How did you build your team?
EC: My team has grown considerably since I started over two years ago. I work with amazing product developers who are incredibly knowledgeable about “clean” ingredients and are deeply committed to creating the absolute best products. I also have a fantastic team of merchants who oversee the buying of products for our Clean Beauty Shop. What everyone on the team has in common is a shared passion for our overall mission and therefore they all work incredibly hard to bring that mission to life.
GTG: How do you deal with knockbacks and negative press?
EC: We really believe in what we are doing. We are moving the needle forward and providing new and important information to our readers. We get such incredible feedback from our Goop community who are so appreciative of what we are doing. So we just remind ourselves of our mission and keep looking forward.
GTG: What’s your biggest beauty bestseller and why do you think it’s been so successful?
EC: Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial, £120 . I am obsessed with exfoliating and this is quite possibly the best I have ever used. It’s literally like getting a facial at home, but in less than three minutes. It has all five alpha-hydroxy acids plus salicylic acid - combined with physical exfoliating beads - so you can definitely feel it working. I think people love it because you immediately see the results - it leaves your skin baby-soft, smooth and glowing.
GTG: Which Goop product do you personally love the most and why?
EC: It’s really hard to pick just one but I drink Goopglow Morning Skin Superpowder, £10, every morning. I wear much less makeup now that I’m getting older, so I focus on taking good care of my skin. I live in LA so I get a lot of exposure to sun and pollution which are top causes of ageing - Goopglow was designed to fight the damage. Plus it’s so easy to take (you just mix it with water), and it tastes delicious! I think it’s really changed how my skin looks.
GTG: What qualities do you look for in the brands that you stock in your Beauty Shop?
EC: We look for a brand that has a unique story behind it, a product that does what it says it will do and that offers a surprisingly delightful experience. Basically a product that’s incredibly thoughtful, original, and efficacious.
Beyond that, we screen all of the products against a long list of ingredients that we have chosen to avoid. These are ingredients that have any link to causing harm to human health or are known toxins. We spent almost a year developing the list and it’s always evolving based on the latest research.
GTG: Will the Beauty Shop’s UK offering differ from the US’?
EC: The offering is mostly the same. We know that our customer, no matter where she is, is looking for the best in clean beauty and wellness. We do have a few more UK brands represented in the London store, such as The Organic Pharmacy, Oskia, Votary and de Mamiel though.
Photography by Appear Here
GTG: And finally, what’s the best piece of work advice that you’ve ever been given and who gave it to you?
EC: Follow your passion, be kind and always give 110 per cent, that way you will make yourself indispensable. It was my parents who taught me this.
The Goop London pop-up is open now until 27 January.