Small Business Salutes

How To Do Laundry In A Pandemic

Celsious, an eco-friendly laundromat in Brooklyn, New York, made major changes to keep customers safe.

by Irina Dvalidze

COVID-19, quarantine, and social distancing changed the way we do pretty much everything — even something as simple as laundry. Luckily, one Brooklyn-based laundromat was uniquely set up to weather the storm.

Founded by sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams, Celsious always aimed to offer something different: a community gathering space where you can grab an espresso with a bite of delicious pastries in the morning, join for a movie screening in the evening, all while doing your laundry using environmentally friendly cleaning products and energy-efficient washing machines. Unfortunately, like with many other businesses, COVID-19 disrupted the sisters’ plans.

“We’re not the typical laundromat,” Williams says. “We’re the first sustainable laundromat in New York City. We were really conscious to provide a beautiful, welcoming space, but we had to aggressively pivot. We closed down for one day, and we transitioned from a self-service experience to a drop-off-only laundromat.”

The sisters consulted one of their customers, a health care worker, to make sure they had the right procedures in place to keep everyone safe. Everything turned completely contactless — customers come in and drop off, then the staff suits up in protective gear to wash their clothes. Within two weeks, they were fully operational and thriving.

Williams says that one of the most rewarding things about changing Celsious’ business model was realizing how differently they could connect with their customers.

“For some of the customers, we might be some of the only people they talk to in a whole day, or maybe even a whole week,” Williams says. “Just a two- or three-minute conversation with someone is maybe even more important than it was before.”

See more of how the Williams sisters shifted and adapted how Celsious operates in the video above.

Bustle’s Small Business Salutes series celebrates small business owners who’ve been going above and beyond to make it work as the world grapples with the ramifications of COVID-19. Subscribe to Bustle Digital Group on YouTube to watch more.

Executive Producer: Whitney Buxton

Executive Creative Director: Lauren Sofair

Supervising Producer: Irina Dvalidze

Director Of Photography: Marshall Stief

Editor: Fia Ramo

Design Director: Andenew Ayele

Motion Designer: Jeff Donlan