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That Goop Conference Everyone’s Talking About — What Do You Think?
06.13.17
Photo by Simon Chetrit

On Saturday, Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a wellness summit in Culver City, California. Appropriately titled “In Goop Health,” it was Goop’s first-ever IRL conference experience, and about 600 people paid $500, $1000 or $1,500 (each level denoted with a crystal) to attend. Highlights included probiotic smoothies served between each activity; a “dome” for aura photos; an IV drip bar; a by CHLOE ice cream cart; an oxygen bar featuring a mix of lavender, lemon, grapefruit and eucalyptus oxygen flavors; a Moon Juice bar; a “Zen zone,” where guests could listen to a pre-recorded guided meditation on an iPad; and a dream-analysis station.

Scads of popular media properties sent representatives to cover the one-day event: Elle, People, AdAge, Fast Company, Quartz… you name it. The buzz wasn’t just likely — it was inevitable. And sure, part of that has to do with Paltrow’s enormous celebrity cache (the Vilshenko dress she wore on stage is already sold out at Net-a-Porter), but there’s more to it than that. We’ve reached an interesting point in the context of our shared cultural perspective wherein creating real-life connections and experiences beyond the digital sphere has started to feel more and more important. Enterprises that were previously online-only are increasingly providing these kinds of opportunities. For example, Social Media Week, which is taking place in L.A. right now, draws over 1,500 attendees and major players like Facebook, Instagram, BuzzFeed and Pinterest for four days of workshops, speakers and demonstrations.

At Man Repeller, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to take our community offline (i.e. Camp Man Repeller, our biggest community activation to-date that took place the first weekend of June). After Camp, we received feedback from both attendees and other community members who followed the weekend on Instagram about how meaningful it was to see space and time being set aside for women to hang out and make friends and be themselves. This isn’t meant to be self-congratulatory, but rather a point of reflection about how Man Repeller can best serve its audience — because there is clearly a growing hunger for these kinds of real-life, tangible spaces and experiences, and following Gwyneth’s Gooptacular conference, we’re mulling over what makes this particular kind of event format appealing.

In other words, what would make you want to go to a conference? What would you hope to get out of the experience? Speaking for myself, I’d definitely want to get something I can’t get online. It’s easy to sit in my bed, dressed in nothing but a training bra and sweatpants, and watch a TED Talk on YouTube, so in order for a conference to outdo that and actually be worth my time and money and sweatpants-changing energy, it would have to offer something more.

I also wouldn’t want it to be too…conference-y. You know? Nothing too prescriptive or formulaic. I’m just brainstorming, but I think my ideal “conference” (still thinking of a better name because “conference” makes me think of gray business suits and boring speeches) would fill my mind with a unique platter of nutrients, such as cool scheduled activities and learning opportunities that are 100% optional if you’d rather just chill, obviously accompanied by a platter of dessert featuring delicacies like pure silliness, a miniature sleeping bag for my phone if I feel like giving it a rest for a spell, making friends I wouldn’t make elsewhere and maybe a literal ice cream sundae or two.

In sum, the total experience would effectively stick a pin in the balloon of my brain and let out all the air with a giant whoooooosh so I could just BE. But again, I’m just spitballing here. I need your assistance. What would you make you want to attend a conference? Would it look like In Goop Health, or would it look like something totally different? What would make you want to take off your sweatpants and come hang out? Tell me in the comments! I’ll be waiting with a probiotic smoothie.

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  • Sleepyhead

    I know this sounds totally cheesy, but I’d love to go to a crafting event, like scrapbooking, but better. I’ve never done it and for some reason glueing sparkles to paper along with memories just sounds relaxing.

    • Akosua Adasi

      I totally get this! My friends and I used to do something similar, just go to a coffee shop with old magazines, glue, sequins, and all kinds of things and just collage and write for hours. I think any activity/event that brings people with shared passions and interests together to learn and have fun is something worth getting dressed for!

    • The Fluffy Owl

      and you can do it with your friends for much less than $1500!

    • Antoinette

      I’ve done it with friends where we created mood boards out of old magazines on contact paper. Very powerful and intimate as you’re sharing your visions/desires with a group, many of them private. Finger food, wine, the cost of gas if you care to drive, and bus/train tickets for everyone is under $200 if it’s a large group.

    • Harling Ross

      doing seated arts & crafts for hours is a very real fantasy of mine

    • I’m down

  • No, just no. That Goop world is so foreign to 99% of this world. I can’t stand all her crazy no evidence vagina steaming woo woo.

    • Laura Guarraci

      Agreed. This is basically a cult designed to make money for it’s leader (Gwenny P) by brainwashing its followers. How much closer can that description be to drinking actual (organic, sugar-free, vitamin-enriched, vagina-stimulus-infused) Kool-aid?

  • The Fluffy Owl

    Probably couldn’t do it for a conference unless you’re meeting in a legal state, but I like to get high (weed only) while I create- smoke a lot and see where the blaze takes me- writing, painting, or cooking- i’ll be in the Zen Zone for hours <3
    And obviously it would be great if it didn't cost several paychecks to attend. If there were geocaching involved I'd definitely show up 🙂

  • Cay

    TBH, I’d prefer like..smaller meetup-type events, maybe with scheduled activities, in NYC, LA and other areas where there is demand. A conference is usually expensive, means traveling, and usually just gets tiring after a few sessions. I think most people who read your website probably just want to meet cool friends – no IV drips involved.

  • BarbieBush

    I think you are right: something would have to be offered that would make going IRL and spending money worth it.

    You haven’t done “round tables” in awhile–that would be an easily transferred thing from the site that would show better IRL anyway. I think the concepts you cover now would easily morph into a program too. The relatability of Amelia and Leandra is palpable and they happen to have succeeded in entrepreneurial areas that I think a lot of readers are like..how did you do it, ie. be successful in writing/start a company from a blog. Personal style (IMO) was or is the backbone of the site and that could be playfully included in an easy way…liiiike thrift store items combined in a myriad of ways and how small changes influence the outfits or “vibe”.

    I think the biggest hurdle would be focusing in on what content areas and what format each idea would best be displayed to make it actually unique and worthwhile to the community. At the end of the day, IMO, any conference is intended to gain knowledge, even if it isn’t academic or health related, I think that would have to be included to differentiate it from the camp event, or any other community event where the basis of it is a community space for women first and foremost.

    ps. I think this is a great idea and can easily be incorporated from MR aesthetic, you should totes do it. I create programs and trainings for a living and it can be really fun to reach your demographic in a hands on way that both offers something to them individually and adds to the conscious community collective.

    • Harling Ross

      All great thoughts. We’ve done an IRL round table at a community event and it was amazing. Would love to do that again on an even bigger scale.

    • Jac

      re the fashion inclusion — a sort of “session” where people can bring an item/items that they really want to like but have no idea how to actually style, and then get help with that? would probably have to be limited to only a few selected attendees, but i think that would be a really cool and more face-to-face interactive thing, even if just observing.

      also — GIANT CLOTHING SWAP

  • Julie

    Cherry Bombe Magazine’s Jubilee was hands down the BEST conference-like event I’ve ever been to. Tons of inspiring speakers and panels with close attention to being sure diversity of people and ideas was represented in full. Day 2 of the conference was a marketplace with samples of everything from cheese to wine to cakes, everything available for sale. Tons of opportunities to meet new people at meal times and an overall super time.

    • Harling Ross

      this sounds heavenly

  • Alex S

    I have utmost faith that a Man Repeller conference would be AMAZING

  • aurelie

    harling i love your writing

  • I think that each MR community event is getting closer and closer to what people want when translating from internet to irl. The camp idea is seriously stellar. Just the template of camp is a great starting point; there are smaller groupings for intimate discussion like the cabins, and larger spaces for greater dialogues/shared experiences like the talent show.

    What I enjoyed about my own MR community event experience was the discussion that was had. I love conversation and I wished that it could have been continued or elongated in some way.

    The great thing about conferences is that they become an annual event. There is always more to talk about. What would make me go to a conference? If it’s free or cheap. Panel discussions and opportunity for smaller convo/meet new people etc.

  • belle

    As a reader, it’s frustrating when hyperlinks in the text don’t link to the specific thing being discussed, but rather to a peripherally relevant MR article. For example, in the first paragraph, the link to the “wellness summit” doesn’t link to the website of the Goop conference. (Which is here, for anyone else wondering: http://goop.com/ingoophealth/ ) Sometimes it feels like self-promotion comes at the expense of the reader’s ability to quickly and easily access other relevant writings and perspectives about the issue at hand, which leads to me not wanting to click any links at all…

    It seems like standard practice for an online platform to link to referenced sources. In addition, for those who open links in new tabs and visit them once they’re done with the current page, it’s weird to finish a piece and then find that you actually just opened ten more tabs of MR. Not sayin’ that’s a bad thing, but maybe it would be more helpful to have an addendum at the end, e.g. “Visit here to learn about how the wellness market is total and utter horseshit” (lol)

    I think that would make the reading experience much smoother and still allow for exploration into relevant pieces in the archives.

    • Anonymous

      a cool thing might be, links to other manrepeller articles in one colour, and links to the outside web in another?

  • Elizabeth Burnim

    Visit the Tree of Life Center in Patagonia, AZ. One visit and you will be hooked. It is beyond words. 160 acres, surrounded by mountain s, trees, gourmet, 100 percent organic, live food nutrition, yoga, meditation, IR saunas, hot tubs, salt water swimming pool, ect.

  • Beasliee

    I think it definitely needs relationship building opportunities and also activities. I go to conferences and often it’s no different to just reading an article or watching a video. The event needs to take advantage of the fact that you are there IRL. Totally agree about the need for tasty food too….!

  • cbBKNY

    My 2 cents
    Exclusive content — from the visual, to the experiential, to the speakers, to the products. Audience generated content. FOOD / drinks. Location. CAKE. Did I say FOOD?
    xx

  • Nah, online is where it’s at. Small meet ups might work, it’s more intimate and easier to organize. The big conferences can quickly become a marketing venue and people will get tired of it quickly, not to mention feeling tricked into shopping.

  • BabyGotYak

    What about a dinner series as a component? Breakout into groups of 20-30 people with one or two guest hosts to focus on a specific issue or topic. (Be sure to get a bio from everyone to do the seating chart!)

    I did a lot of these when I was a fundraiser and they are baller. Good food + interesting ideas + a little booze = new BFFs for all.

  • Chess

    “You can’t honestly address “wellness” – the things people need to be well – without addressing poverty and systemic racism, disability access and affordable healthcare, paid family leave and food insecurity, contraception and abortion, sex work and the war against drugs and mass incarceration. Unless, of course, you are only talking about the wellness of people whose lives are untouched by all of those forces. That is, the wellness of people who are disproportionately well already.” – Lindsay West, dropping the fucking mic

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/14/gwyneth-glows-like-a-radioactive-swan-my-day-at-the-goop-festival

    • Anonymous

      fuck that’s good. i didn’t know y i felt icky about it but now i do

  • Emily

    i just think the price is ridiculous and alienates so many people?? i’d like to go, but thats the price of a holiday??

  • Lindsey Claire Twigg

    If there were anything resembling a MR conference, it should definitely revolve around a sleepover. Like bring your PJs and let’s eat popcorn and smear avocado masks all over our faces all while Leandra tells ghost stories underneath a giant pillow fort.

  • Anonymous

    i wish i lived in nyc for MR events