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Gwyneth Paltrow isn't just an Oscar-winning actress. This year she invested in the nation's largest chain of blow-dry bars, Blo, with 50 locations and plans to add 30 next year.
She's not just an investor; she's involved in shaping the look of the salons and the services they offer. "I think my strengths are in anything aesthetic so the look of the salons, trends, social media," said Paltrow.
Paltrow said the investment happened organically, sparked by her investment in Tracy Anderson's fitness business. "We were opening our flagship studio here in Brentwood in Los Angeles, and I thought wouldn't it be great if we take this little space that we didn't know what to do with and put a blow-dry bar in it for our clients," says Paltrow. She said the response was so overwhelming that she and her partner in the venture, David Babaii (who is also her hairdresser), discussed opening more, and were introduced to Ari Yakobson, the CEO of Blo.
"I actually think that this [business] could scale," said Yakobson, as the business has "all kinds of potential pop-up situations in secondary retailers."
"I am in the midst of having strategic discussions with several large, well-known retailers that are asking us to put stores inside their stores in order to generate the traffic that they need that they have lost as a result of online shopping," said Yakobson
In addition to her partnerships in Blo and Tracy Anderson, she also runs lifestyle site Goop. Paltrow dismissed comparisons to Martha Stewart: "I don't think of ourselves like that…. Goop is a very modern lifestyle brand, and it's not eponymous and a collective of women." Paltrow said the company is focused on "contextual commerce," weaving lifestyle content and retail together as seamlessly as possible. "Obviously, Martha invented the category and we have a lot of respect for her, but we don't consider ourselves ... it's a very different business in my mind."
As for Stewart's criticisms of Paltrow's endeavor (Stewart has said publicly "If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart), the actress thinks they're a good thing.
"I'm incredibly flattered, I mean it's amazing. We're a very nascent biz, and it's amazing that she would regard us competition," Paltrow said.
While Paltrow juggles her various ventures, she said she plans to continue to act in a movie each year. "In this chapter I'm very interested in the entrepreneurial side of me and raising my kids," Paltrow says. "I do try to act when I can, and I really love it and hopefully it's not an either/or situation."