WTF is Wellness is a new series that takes us alongside our Founder, Beryl Solomon, as she talks all things modern wellness with some of the most exciting and influential minds in the space. From CBD and cannabis to mind, body and lifestyle - let’s navigate this crazy world we live in one conversation at a time.
This week, we’re talking family, CBD, and laundry with sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams, co-founders of Celsious - a modern laundromat meets urban respite that’s revolutionizing the ritual we love to hate. Putting a spin on the idea of laundry in New York City and breaking free of the cycle of damaging detergents is just the beginning of their vision.
Beryl: Ladies, let’s get right to it. How is the laundry experience at Celsious a part of wellness?
Theresa: Well, first off we’ve curated a zen atmosphere and zen space. And everyone needs to do laundry to be “well”.
Corinna: Just the fact that now, here, you can do laundry in an environment that’s not stressful, depressing, frustrating...
Theresa: Aggravating...You can give yourself a little moment to breathe or - if you need to- work simultaneously.
Corinna: We actually have some people who come and just sit and watch the machines.
Beryl: It’s their meditation?!?!
Corinna: It has that aspect to it.
Beryl: That’s incredible! For me the connection between wellness and laundry was relatively straightforward because I have 2 kids, and one of the first things the baby nurse, pediatricia, mother in law, etc. tells you is “wash the babies clothes in free and clear detergent”. That for me was a “holy shit” moment and we never went back.
Theresa: Yes! That’s the thing, for some people the connection is there and obvious and for other people it’s not. It’s the same as with beauty products, all those carcinogens and endocrine disruptors get accumulated in your body. Obviously the skin is our largest organ and absorbs a lot of these chemicals, so thinking about laundry in that way, it becomes very obvious.
I mean if someone is telling you products are not safe for a child, what makes us think they’re safe for us, the water, or the fish in the water?
Beryl: I had never thought about it before kids. I can see how it can be revolutionary for some people.
Theresa: Yes - Even people that are super into organic food and wellness, when it comes to laundry they just do what they’re used to, what their mothers did. And they have all these products, like dryer sheets, with these very intense synthetic fragrances that they associate with memories and cleanliness.
Beryl: Most people are like “that’s just what my mom did”?
Theresa: Yeah, and it’s funny because fabric softener and dryer sheets—which are basically sheets laced with fabric softener—are the least necessary and the most toxic. Just don’t use them - and save money.
Beryl: Wow! Ok - So how was the idea of Celsious born?
Corinna: Essentially it was born out of my very real, immense frustration at doing laundry in the city. I just couldn’t find a way to do it that felt okay to me, so when I moved here 6 years ago I tried everything, from the corner laundromat, to dropping it off, to sending it out. I did all the apps and everything was worse than the last. I started looking for a laundromat that was friendly and that I didn’t want to run out of after 5 minutes, and it just didn't exist. I was like “Wow, is this something no one has tackled in this vast city?”.
Corinna: Theresa was living in London at the time and she was the only person who understood why I wanted to do this. We’ve always wanted to start our own thing together.
Beryl: And now, you are business owners… What’s your favorite part of owning a business?
Theresa: For me, the regulars are the most rewarding part, just meeting all these people. That’s the beautiful thing about brick and mortar, especially somewhere that people come to on a regular basis. In a year we’ve had probably 5 babies born. The new moms come in with all the little clothes. We’ve really seen them through the whole cycle.
Beryl: No pun intended :) It’s kind of personal, right?
Corinna: It’s very personal! A lot of the naysayers in the beginning siad “no it won’t be successful in the City, people like to drop off” - but we stayed the course and kept saying, “no, I don’t think everyone likes to drop off”.
Theresa: People drop off because they don’t like to spend time in those places. I’m not saying everyone, but a lot of people actually like to handle their own laundry because there’s something very personal and private. Many people care about their clothes and want to handle items in certain ways.
Beryl: Right, like I have different pieces - one may get washed in cold water, other things need to hang dry…
Theresa: And having to explain all that to a stranger is not the most convenient option. You are constantly making sure things aren’t ruined. And let’s face it, once something is damaged, even if you do not have to pay for a new one, the replacement is never the same.
Beryl: Talk to me about wellness. How do you stay balanced amidst starting a business?
Theresa: We opened a year ago and are just starting to get back on track. That means exercising, and leaving this place at a reasonable hour. Like after 9-10 hours per day vs 18… We’re going to yoga and working out 3 times a week which is really good. And - we are also resuming out “normal” sleep schedule and skin care routine. It’s becoming more routine.
Beryl: What are your favorite products? If you were going to a desert island what would you have to bring with you?
Theresa: In terms of products, I’m a complete purist, I have very very sensitive skin so I make my own things and my number one ingredient is castor oil. It works from top to bottom and I only buy 1 one bottle per year— it’s the most effective and economic option. Depending on how I feel, I might mix in some essential oils but that’s really it.
Beryl: That’s amazing!
Corinna: For me, definitely the under eye area is key. The eye cream I swear by is Susanne Kaufmann. And I need my concealer and my Gua Sha tool—I’ve actually been using that with the Khus + Khus Serum.
Beryl: So CBD plays a role in your wellness routine?
Theresa: Yes! I think the first time I started consistently taking it was when we started stocking Plant People. The most surprising thing for me is that it I’m able to focus much more. My major problem is actually decision fatigue and just indecisiveness in general and it being completely overwhelmed with all the things you have to do as a business owner.
Beryl: And as a New Yorker, and a woman, and, and, and...
Theresa: Yeah, so what I’ve found is it calms that aspect in my mind and makes me a lot more efficient and productive, which I never thought “weed” would. I’m pretty sure it not a placebo either because when I realized what was going on I was like, “oh is that what’s happening”?
Corinna: For me it was the same. I was waking up and my heart was racing and I would speed read all my emails, and that actually all went away when I started taking it.
Beryl: And you were surprised?
Corinna: Yeah! I didn’t realize I was in this constant state of being on-edge.
Beryl: It just brings down down your base line...
Corinna: Or up. It brings it to whatever it needs to be.
Beryl: Totally, an equilibrium. Any other favorite CBD products?
Theresa: I just started using the balms after I got Bell's Palsy at the end of the year from stress. I’ve actually been using the roller focusing on that side of the face and the nerves and I’ve also always had sinus problems so using the roller anywhere on my face is healing. It’s great.
Corinna: I got the coolest thing from Poplar, which is the CBD Vaporizer for sore muscles. So after SoulCycle that’s what I use.
Beryl: What about cannabis in general, does that play a part in your wellness?
Corinna: Not anymore. We didn’t smoke a lot ever, except recreationally. Now we’ve pretty much stopped completely.
Theresa: As Europeans you always smoke with tobacco and for me that was aggravating my lungs. I would take edibles - but if I did, I would want to make them myself.
Beryl: Have you tried - to make them yourself?
Theresa: Kind of. It’s not easy—getting the dosing right. I don’t know if there’s a science to it?
Beryl: There’s a great machine called Levo which helps you infuse the cannabis into food, you guys should check it out.
Corinna and Theresa: Oh wow, yes!
Beryl: Ok - last few tidbits. Your parents work here with you, right? Do you need a wellness break from working with them?
Theresa: [Laughs] No, not really. It wasn’t necessarily the plan for them to get stuck here as well but it’s also a huge adventure for them. They’ve never owned their own business and have been in the same jobs their entire lives, so being a part of this, getting to spend time with their daughters together for the first time in 10 years is really cool.
Beryl: I would say so…