Corinna and Theresa are sisters and owners of Celsious, a modern, eco-conscious laundromat in Brooklyn. A labour of love, every detail and design of Celsious carries a personal touch. From the wooden stools inside the café that was built from the washing machines’ shipping palettes, to the font on the dryers.
What’s it like being sisters and working together?
Corinna: The best!
Theresa: I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else.
From Germany to New York, how do the dots connect to now?
Corinna: I moved from Germany to New York in 2012 for a job as US Editor at Large. Shortly after I relocated, I found myself frustrated with the state of laundry in the city.
What was it like building a place like Celsious from the ground up? Surprising obstacles along the way?
Theresa: All the obstacles we could think and not think of. From funding being pulled out from under us to having to re-build entire walls, we had to conquer them all.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
Corinna: We both don’t own a lot of clothes, as we select what we purchase really carefully. We like to buy ethically produced pieces made from sustainable materials that are timeless and we know will last for many many wears.
A large part of Celsious’ appeal is its design, especially with furniture details like Arne Jacobsen chairs from Craigslist and old subway tiles for the stairs. Can you share more about the intent behind building a space like this?
Theresa: When it comes to sourcing furniture and materials, we wanted to stay true to the resource-efficiency that is a main pillar of our business: We found those lovely vintage Arne Jacobsen chairs on Craigslist and were able to reclaim some amazing tiles (including some original yellow MTA subway tiles on the stairs leading up to our mezzanine coffee bar) and marble slabs from New York City’s Big Reuse. The flooring of the original mezzanine, cork boards, now provide a gorgeous backdrop to the indoor plants above our dryers. As for materials, we used woods and stones for everything we could hand-build, like custom benches in the backyard and the reception kiosk and coffee bar. The color palette was picked to reflect that airiness and welcoming feeling we want Celsious to convey: warm yellows, cozy corals and clean off-whites are needed as a juxtaposition to our equipment’s stainless steel. Speckles of the color palette can be found in our flooring, a custom-blend hat is typically used in outdoor pool or play areas. It’s also super durable, so it will withstand the wear-and-tear a commercial laundromat faces.
The mindfulness towards fashion and its materials has been a growing priority, but it seems that for most that’s where sustainability ends. Tell us more about why caring for your clothes is a part of continuing that cycle.
Theresa: The process of washing and drying has an impact on our environment and our bodies. Washers use water, dryers natural gas, the products we use in the washer and dryer are worn against our skin, which absorbs any product we treat the clothes with. The water that drains from every washer may carry micro-fibers that end up in our waterways and oceans.
Corinna: Our solution was to invest in the most energy-efficient professional laundry equipment on the market, which doesn’t only deliver water and gas but also time (fastest wash and dry in 31 minutes!) savings and offer non-toxic alternatives to incredibly harmful products like fabric softener and dryer sheets. We also love to wash with Coraballs and Guppyfriend bags to catch microfibers shed in the wash.
For those of us who don’t have access to an energy-saving laundromat, what are 3 tips for sustainable at-home laundry?
Corinna: We’ll try to keep it at 3 😉 First, good rule of thumb to increase wearability and prolong the life cycle 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 wears to your garment’s life.
Theresa: Second, 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”. And lastly, 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, 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 and/or fertility issues – and in severe cases, cancer.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Corinna: For me, sustainability is all about making things last – for ourselves and future generations.
Theresa: Very similar to Corinna, sustainability to me means trying my best to live in a way that future generations will still be able to inhabit this earth. And inspiring other to do the same.
Both: Taking care of those textiles in a way that does not harm you or others, our oceans and our environment.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
Corinna: Honesty! I 100% believe in being upfront. This applies to myself. But also to my choices as a consumer. I value transparency in brands and – even if not everything is perfect (which is nearly impossible – I would much rather support businesses that are honest about all parts of their production than those that appear to be “green”, but are not upfront about what goes into their product.
Theresa: I find it frustrating that social sustainability is often getting less attention in the public dialogue than environmental sustainability. I strongly believe in respecting the dignity of all people you touch directly or indirectly through your choices.
We are inspired by Corinna and Theresa’s perspective on sustainability and their committed integrity in upholding it and are proud to have them as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. They are wearing the Classic Wideleg + Leharia Charcoal (Organic Cotton) and Sideswept Dhoti + Handloom Graph Grey in Size 1.
Portraits of Corinna and Theresa taken by Sasha Turrentine.