Illustration by Peter Oumanski

Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights Game Changers, who inspire, educate, and celebrate individuality, beauty, and style. Meet Noora Raj Brown, the Executive Vice President, Brand at goop who’s focused on doing work that inspires.

At goop, my job is thinking about how to elevate and to communicate the brand’s mission to the world. And one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on surrounded the infamous “Smells Like My Vagina” candle. (I’m sure you’ve heard of it.) Originally, the idea behind that candle was a little punk rock — naming it after a female body part — and everyone’s reacting to in an incendiary way.

That candle blew up in many ways from a media perspective, so earlier this year, we partnered with the ACLU to create a candle called “Hands Off My Vagina,” and all proceeds benefited ACLU. It launched right before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and it was a way of really bringing it back to the core of why we created this subversive candle. We think about the issues that our community cares about and we figure out how to shed light on them in a way that’s fun and interesting — and sometimes a little provocative.

Before joining goop in 2016, I worked in media leading communications for fashion magazines at Time Inc., and I loved it, but I also saw the writing on the wall in terms of how the model was changing. I had friends who were early employees at goop, and I was really energized by what they were doing. The then-CEO called me out of the blue and within weeks I got the job.

It was a huge change, but it was exciting to be there for the early years, and to watch the brand become something really important. One thing I wasn’t expecting when I came to goop was having the ability to be involved in so many different things. When you’re at a big media brand or a big company, you can be a bit siloed. When you’re at a start-up, people give you things that you have no business doing. For some, that’s really scary, and for others it’s really energizing, and I think for me it was both.

Early in my career I was really focused on magazines, and now, my long-term goals just include continuing to do work that inspires me. I know that sounds vague, but I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the hustle of, I need to be here at a certain stage, or I need this title, and I certainly am guilty of that. But at the end of the day, it’s really about, Are you passionate about what you’re doing? I always say to my team that as much as the numbers are important, none of us got into this world to look at spreadsheets all the time. We got into this world because we wanted to be inspired by the work that we’re doing. If I can keep doing that for as long as possible, I’ll be thrilled.

Ever since remote work has made everything bleed into one another, I feel like it’s very easy to always think that you have more to do (and you probably do) but it’s just as important to disconnect. I’m adamant about turning off technology and diving into a good book. Goop has this unique mandatory vacation every August, and we’re not allowed to be on our phone. If you email Gwyneth [Paltrow] she will either not respond or she’ll email you back and say, “Stop being on email. You need to be on vacation.” It’s a time to recalibrate and relax, with the idea that when you come back you will be inspired and can look at things in a new light, which I think is so crucial.

When it comes down to actually unwinding, I’m still an ultimate planner. But it’s funny, an old boss of mine once said to me, “Over-prepare and then go with the flow.” And that’s my philosophy on a lot of things, both in work and life. — As told to Colleen Kratofil.