How Celsious Is Changing the Laundromat Game
Face it, laundromats usually aren’t the most welcoming or luxurious places. Instead, they’re utilitarian at best, and depressing at worst, a place to go to only as a last resort when you’re well and truly out of socks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And Celsious—a Williamsburg laundromat founded by German sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams—is proof. With an onsite cafe, inviting environment, and dedication to sustainable washing and longterm garment care, Celsious aims to upgrade your laundry experience, transforming the local laundromat into a community attraction and environmentally triumphant space. Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Corinna and Theresa, checking in on everything from their backgrounds in fashion and media to their mission with Celsious.
You both originally hail from Munich, Germany. How’d you end up in the city that never sleeps?
Corinna: We were born and raised in Germany, but I moved to New York in 2012 for a job as US editor-at-large for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar Germany.
Theresa: I was working as an eyewear designer in London when I decided to join Corinna in New York in 2014 to help her build Celsious.
Speaking of the city, when you walk around New York, there’s often waste lying around. Were you shocked by that, or are there similarities in this ecosphere to Munich?
Theresa: Munich is actually incredibly clean compared to New York. Definitely very little waste on the streets. Also, everyone is so used to recycling. There are recycling bins on virtually every street corner.
How did Celsious come into fruition once you were both here and where did the name come from?
Theresa: Celsious is a nod to our upbringing. We were both born and raised in Germany. We love the metric system. The precision, yet ease of calculating one hundredth of a meter is beautiful! Even though our dad is American and we’ve lived in the States for a while now, inches and feet and Fahrenheit make no logical sense to us. In Europe, zero degrees Celsius signifies freezing point. Garment care labels and washer programs note specific temperatures at which clothing needs to be washed: 30, 40, 60, or 90 degrees Celsius. Which is a lot more precise than the “Cold,” “Warm,” or “Hot” people are used to here. I guess, if it were up to us, we would not only revolutionize the way laundry is done here, but the system of measurement also. We changed the spelling to allow us to get our dot.com!
You both seem to be passionate about fashion just as much as being eco-friendly; do you think that pushed you towards making laundry more environmentally clean as well?
Corinna: I guess you could say that. Celsious is all about bringing everything we love and are passionate about together. Caring for our favorite garments in a way that didn’t clash with our beliefs when it comes to clean living was a no-brainer.
Do you think Celsious has helped change your customer’s views on clothing, waste, and consumerism?
Theresa: I think the conversations we have with our customers have definitely changed their views on prolonging the life cycle of garments and being conscious about what they purchase and how they care for those things. We’re big believers in Marie Kondo’s philosophy of owning only things that “spark joy.” It is actually really simple: Think about every single item you are looking to acquire and whether it will make you happy for a sustained period of time. If not, maybe pass on it and save up for something you know will make you feel joy for a very long time. Secondly, if you’re about to purchase an item, but are not sure how to care for it, consider not getting it. Reducing the number of new things you own is the ultimate sustainable fashion practice.
When we visited Celsious, there seemed to be a difficult moment when a charity company couldn’t take all of the clothes customers brought in to be donated. Do you think that’s a good example of how much clothing is wasted and thrown out, even by people who are trying to help make things more sustainable? What do you want to change about that?
Corinna: Definitely. The volume of “unwanted” clothing people donate at our location alone is pretty significant. Thankfully, part of the donations will actually find a new owner, the rest will be recycled, so nothing actually lands in landfill. Which is sadly not the case for most clothing and accessories. The average American tosses 70 pounds of clothing in the trash annually! That needs to change!
Theresa: The way we see Celsious instigating some of that change is through the conversations we have with our customers and the wider public tuning in to our Instagram. But also providing advice on garment care that will prolong the life of your clothes.
Other than the laundromat, there’s also an amazing cafe upstairs! What made you want to add this new twist to typical laundry services?
Theresa: One of our main missions was to turn the much dreaded task of doing laundry into the pleasurable experience we know it can be. For many of our customers, doing laundry at Celsious has become one of their favorite tasks that they look forward to all week long! We create a relaxing atmosphere—with lots of plants and natural light, ample seating in the café area for people to be able to get a few emails out over a cup of organic espresso or meet up with friends for brunch on the weekend and get a few loads of laundry done at the same time. Eliminating all the stressors that you might find in other laundromats, like dirty or non-functioning equipment, harsh lighting, blaring TVs, and adding in a bunch of perks like free three-ingredient detergent, attentive staff to help with all fabric care questions, a payment system that accepts credit cards and Apple Pay directly on each machine really transforms the experience for our customers.
Celsious hosts events and works on a lot of collaborations. What made you want to build a community around Celsious, rather than just keeping it like a typical Laundromat?
Theresa: True. We’ve had panel discussions, concerts, natural dyeing workshops, and yoga classes… Our goal was definitely always to build a community within Celsious and with the community around Celsious. As much as we hope we can make people travel from other boroughs for Celsious’ superior laundry services, we do want to embrace our neighbors, who have been watching Celsious develop over the last year and have lent so much of their encouragement and support.
Corinna: We are also proud to create a community around like-minded entrepreneurs like Westwind Orchard, whose apple cider vinegar is part of our cafe offering; CAP Beauty, whose organic ceremonial-grade matcha we are proud to be including in a signature menu item; grass-fed bone broth by Brodo in the East Village; local, seasonal salads in reusable jars by our lovely French friend Chloé of Ancolie; and organic kombucha by Aquavitea from Vermont, which is available on tap at Celsious.
What can people do to make their clothing last longer?
Corinna: A good rule of thumb to increase wearability and prolong the lifecycle of your garments is: Go low on the heat! I try to wash almost anything that is not sheets or towels on cold, which preserves synthetic fibers, especially elastic ones. Same goes for the dryer. If you have the ability to hang and/or flat dry—which is key for delicate items such as wool and cashmere—it’s a good way to add some extra wears to your garment’s life.
Theresa: Do make sure to follow care instructions on your garments. That said, many items, such as wool and cashmere sweaters can be washed with gentle cycles developed specifically for more delicate garments—even though their labels might say “Dry Clean Only.” For stained items, we cannot stress the importance of pre-treatment enough. As powerful as our equipment is, some stains are stronger. If you treat them with our Soap Stick by Meliora or soak them overnight in a Non-Chlorine Bleach Complex by Sonett, chances of getting your piece of clothing completely spotless without having to resort to using chemicals that may put your hormonal, reproductive, or respiratory health at risk whilst polluting our waterways, are significantly higher. Try to steer clear of conventional detergents, which again can contain an unknown there is no federal legislation requiring detergent manufacturers to list ingredients on packaging number of toxins, which could anything from skin irritation to respiratory or fertility issues—and in severe cases, cancer.
What’s next for Celsious?
Theresa: We want to bring Celsious to as many people as possible, so expanding to multiple locations is definitely in the picture. Before that happens, check out our Instagram and website for exciting new things this fall and winter!