Corinna Williams is the co-founder of Celsious, Brooklyn’s first-ever concept laundromat focused on sustainability, clean products, and making laundry less of a chore and more of an experience. She and her sister (and co-founder), Theresa, were raised in a German household that prioritized organic and local food, natural products, and quality over quantity—values that they’ve instilled into their community-driven business, too. On Thanksgiving Day, Corinna gave birth to her daughter, Lila, at home. We spoke to her about assembling a home birth team, imparting values onto your children (and business), and looking back on 2020.
You’ve referenced starting Celsious as a birth in itself. What inspired this birth and how has it been nurturing this baby with your sister, Theresa?
When I moved to New York City from Germany in 2012, I was extremely unsatisfied with the experience and the washing results of my local laundromat. After scouring the city for alternatives and realizing that—really—most laundromats were various shades of outdated and depressing, I decided it was time to offer an alternative. Like raising a child, nurturing a business takes a village. I could not imagine embarking on this journey without Theresa. In fact, one of the best aspects of running Celsious is being able to do so alongside my brilliant sister.
How was your sustainable lifestyle fostered as a child?
Growing up in Germany, our mama strived to create a healthy, toxin-free environment for us. Eating local and organic food, using only natural, minimally-processed products, from skincare and beauty to other household goods to furniture and even building products. We’ve been imparted with a strong compass on searching out quality over quantity and taking into account the environmental and social impact of our choices as consumers. Our upbringing has influenced how we build our business. And all the knowledge our mother imparted to us is something I am determined to pass on to my daughter.
Will you impart these sustainability values onto your children?
This holistic approach to living has definitely impacted some of the choices I’ve made for my prenatal care and birth prep. Birth, if Mama and Baby are healthy, does not have to be a medical event, and I am proud to have had an unmedicated home birth with my husband and amazing birth team: My midwives at Heart Science Midwifery and my doula, Daya. I am currently studying Maria Montessori’s philosophy of learning through play and fostering a child’s desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect. If I live sustainably and in harmony with Earth, by example, I hope I’ll be able to spark my daughter’s curiosity to learn about being a responsible steward of this Earth.
Love that you built a community around your birth. What was your first thought when you found out you were pregnant, especially given the isolating nature of the pandemic?
“How am I going to get care?” We found out we were having a baby just a few days after New York City had issued the stay-at-home order. I was concerned about how we were going to find any prenatal support during COVID, where I would give birth, and how I would protect myself and Baby from the virus… But it turned out there were few reasons to worry and the circumstances were a catalyst to getting a head start on assembling an amazing birth team in the very early stages of my pregnancy.
How are you and the Celsious team tapping into the community, given these socially distant times?
As an essential business, we’ve been able to remain open throughout the pandemic. Especially in the early days of COVID, when all non-essential businesses were shut down, we realized that we were the only point of contact for many customers. This made every interaction that much more important. In addition to those daily in-store interactions, social media and our email newsletter have been great tools for staying in touch with everyone who might not have been able to visit us in Williamsburg.
When did you realize what a mother’s strength means to you?
There wasn’t really one particular moment, and I am sure there are many challenges that still lie ahead, which will define what a mother’s strength means to me. That said, the “birth” of my business, Celsious, has not only tested the limits of my strength, but also shown me what my body and mind are capable of. It has taught me not only to trust my instincts and persevere, but also to call on my community when needed. Thanks to the incredible support from my family, friends, midwives, doula, and trainer Thea Hughes, I was even more prepared for my first baby’s birth as the most powerful experience of my life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received during pregnancy?
So much good advice! I’m so grateful to have had an incredible birth team from the start, as well as a community of women offering support and tips. The hands-down best advice was given by a dear friend and mentor, who is also a doula. She advised me to significantly increase my protein intake to battle my first trimester nausea and fatigue. 100 grams per day—a bodybuilder’s diet for building a human body from scratch.
What has been your most glowing memory from pregnancy so far?
When I felt our baby kicking in response to my husband speaking to her in Italian.
What was the first change you made in your beauty routine when you found out you were pregnant?
As someone who grew up on organic food and who runs an eco-focused business whose mission is to eliminate toxins from our laundry routine, I’ve always been very conscious of reducing my own toxic load by keeping a minimal and clean beauty routine. I didn’t really have to ban anything from my bathroom when I found out I was pregnant. The only change I really made was to apply extra moisture to my growing belly.
Where is your Eden?
The answer would have to be my bed.
Looking back on 2020, how will you remember this year?
For me, 2020 will always be marked by my wonderful first pregnancy. I already miss my belly! And the magical birth of our daughter, Lila. We found out we were expecting a few days into the first COVID lockdown in New York. And she decided to join us on Thanksgiving Day, after a short night of labor in our Brooklyn home. Carrying and nurturing her, and then being able to share her very special arrival in such an intimate setting with my husband and our incredible birth team has been the greatest gift—especially during such a turbulent year.