Small Business Spotlight: Celsious
Hi. Everyone I'm Stefanie LeBlanc the host of grow with Google on air welcome. To the very first of our small business spotlights, with Celsius. Celsius. Is a premium. Sustainable. Garnet, garment, care provider and New York's first, laundromat. Cafe, located. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn today. We will be talking with the founder is Karina and Teresa two. Sisters, born and raised in Germany and now living in New York they've, taken their professional. Expertise, in fashion, and design their. Love of the environment, and obsession. With all things clean and open these chicas, and the most energy-efficient. Laundromat, in New York but. Before we get started we did want to mention that you'll be able to access a replay of this virtual event in the future by, clicking on demand, on the grow with Google on-air homepage and don't, forget to post and share on social, using. The hashtag, girl with Google, finally. You also have, the option, to turn on YouTube's, closed captioning, to follow along to, do so click, the closed captioning, button directly, on the video player on your, screen now let's get started, welcome, Karina and Teresa, hi. Guys for having us, I'm Karina by the way and I'm Teresa. Okay. So, let's, get started when, I think of laundry, that's. Not the most glamorous thing not the most fun thing to do but it's so essential. And. You two have backgrounds, in fashion, and design so. Help me and help our audience bridge, the gap from that career path to. The world of laundry, and also let's find out what's the story behind the name Celsius. That's. Right so I, was. Actually. Working as, a, fashion writer when I, moved to New York in 2012. I was, working for artists. Was our Germany, and as. I mentioned. Coming. To, New York and, being. Confronted. With having. To do laundry. Outside, of my home, pretty much for the first time in my life so just a little side note pretty. Much everyone in Germany has their. Own washer. Sometimes. Even dryer in their. Apartment. Or in their house so, having. To go to a, laundromat or having to drop off your, laundry and, cleaners is not really a thing so, when I first got to New York. Doing. Laundry. Was, as, you, mentioned. Anything. And everything else but, glamorous, and I. Found. That the experience, of, laundry. Day was. Really. Really not enjoyable. It took a ton of time I, had. To spend it in. Cramped. Spaces with. No seating, where. You. Know I really. Didn't, feel comfortable, because. They weren't well maintained. And they weren't very clean, which is odd since I went there to get my clothes clean and, and. That's that's. Pretty much when I, I. Started. Toying with the idea of. Improving. That whole, experience, around laundry, day and creating. A, clean. And friendly and welcoming space. Where. You. Know I would, feel comfortable I'm, bringing, my laundry, and also hanging, out doing some work were relaxing.
Having, A cup of coffee while. While. I did my chores and. That. Was, probably. Around a, year. Into, me. Living in New York and I. Called. Teresa who was living in London at the time and, and. Told her about the. Idea. Yeah. So the way Karina, wrote me and I'm. A trained product designer I was, working. In London and, I were actually some fashion, accessories. At the time and, she took, me, in by, asking. Me for help with the. Interior. Design, for, this, business, concept, that she had and. Yeah. I pretty, much, the board was, ready for a change, moved to New York in 2014. And then after. We worked on the concept for a little while it became clear that this was going to be a full time endeavor for, both of us and then. Speaking. Of we're backgrounds, again for us it was never that. Strange, to, go from, working. In fashion. Slash. Design, to. Opening a laundromat because ultimately, all, fashion. Will. At some point become, laundry, so this this, disconnect, that a lot of people are I see, was was never really there, for us in the first place that's. That's, really true and, speaking. Of the name Celsius. That. Was a result. Of a. Week-long. If not month-long. Brainstorming. Session. That, took place in our kitchen. We were living together also at, the time and it. Was really like a crazy. Beautiful. Mind mood board of like post-its, and, sheets. Of paper with just names and kind of mock-ups. Of logo scribbled, out and we. Eventually landed, on Celsius. Because, we thought it was an, amazing. Not, to, our European upbringing. So if, you've ever seen a, piece of clothing that was, made in, Italy. To your friends, you'll see that the, garment care label, actually. Lists. Um the, washing. Temperature, in degrees, Celsius so. Instead of saying wash, I'm cold or much warmer. Wash on hot going. To say washed, at 30 degrees Celsius of wash in 40 degrees Celsius, or 60, degrees Celsius and then, whoever. Has seen the, word Celsius. Degrees. Celsius, that is written out knows that there is no o, in it and we, just added that 4.com, visas. Love. The creativity, and the, fashion. And design and. Product expertise. That, you're, bringing, to the world of laundry, how, did you bring, that into finding, location. Purchasing, equipment and really outfitting, the stores. So. The. The, location, hunting, was. A pretty, long process we, ultimately, spend. About. One and a half years, I would say looking. For locations. Six, to nine months of that really really actively, where, we probably, ended up seeing about 50. Commercial, 50-plus, commercial, spaces in in, New York City and then as. As. We've touched on before your average laundromat, here, is apart. From often, not, being the, cleanest. Most. Welcoming, space often. Ceilings. Are pretty low lighting, isn't great either too bright or or, it or too dim and we, really wanted to turn that. Whole. Concept completely. On its head so we've. Actively. Look for spaces. That had really, high ceilings, a, ton of natural. A. Ton, of natural light and just a really good. Really. Good vibe and that's essentially. Why. Me chose the location that we're in now so we weren't we, weren't specifically. Looking to. Open our first, location, and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn we were really we, were open, to most, neighborhoods, across New York City but as soon as we saw. The space online we had a really good feeling and then when we walked in for the first time it was it was pretty clear that this was going to be the. Perfect spot and so we have double high ceilings, with a mezzanine, a giant, storefront, and in. The front and in the back where. We have a ton of really great natural light so, when. We saw the space we, we knew that that. This is where we wanted to be after a, few. Months of negotiating, with the landlords, we ultimately signed, a lease, in. 2016. Then, we had nine, pretty. Tense months, of paperwork. So, a ton of, engineering. Drawings, architectural. Drawings, that, that we worked out with, with. Our team and. Then we had nine. Additional. Grueling, months of construction, and, goes out but. Ultimately we, open our doors in November. 2017. That. Said during the build-out we were also able to get really, creative thanks, - I, will, say Teresa's, design, expertise. And, her, obsession. With Craigslist, so we. Did um fine. And, and, ultimately. Build with a. Bunch. Of things that that Teresa was able to source on. Craigslist, and and also, reuse, some of the materials, that we found in the. Space. From. Previous tenants, so, yeah. Also ultimately, part of our. Very. Good friend omission, is to you. Know reuse. What's, there and to. You. Know make. Sure that we, use.
Resources. As as, responsibly. As possible. And, that's, that's. Also the mindset that we had. Obviously. Looking for the. Equipment, that that, we wanted to work with and. We. Chose. The. Most energy, efficient. And and fastest, line, that, you. Can find on the. Coin Haji market now and yeah, that, wasn't a hard choice and it came, pretty early on so we knew which which, machines we wanted to go with the, ones that save, 30 percent in water, the. Dryers, that save 40% and, gas and, that, are ultimately now. Able, to wash, and dry in. As little as 31 minutes. Awesome. That's, a. Long. Process and. You. Touched on manufacturing. Which which, kind of made me think there. Are only a couple manufacturers. That you could actually go, to what. Was the reception as, you, engage, with these different, companies. To, get the equipment that you needed or even within the constructions. Face and, they. See the. Two of you right young amazing, black women what. Was the reception like within, dealing, with with, different. Different. Companies as you were kind of putting all the puzzle pieces together it. Was. Interesting, to say the least, so yeah. You mentioned obviously. That. You mentioned the laundry industry as well as construction. So both of those. Fields. Are. Pretty. Much run by. White. Male. Yeah. Contractors. Or. Executives. So there, are very very few women, let. Alone women of color let. Alone young, women of color in. Either. Of them so I. Think. It took. It. Took a long time during. Construction definitely. To. You. Know get our point across we. Sometimes. Have. To bring our husbands, in to, like, get a point across so that's that's. Yeah. Something, that doesn't, doesn't, feel great um. And it's. It's. Definitely, it. Was. It was a pretty big challenge I think again. One that we weren't really prepared for as, with the laundry industry. I think it's, taken, up until now almost, like we're two, years in, for. A lot. Of the people that we've, we've, been in touch with and we've been in contact with through throughout, the process to, kind. Of take, us really. Seriously. And understand, that we we, are forced, to be reckoned with and all of this there. Was in, the, beginning that there definitely was. There. Was a lot of skepticism around. You. Know a the, concept. That that we were trying to build, but. Also you. Know us as. Yet. You us being at the helm, of the, entire operation. So. You guys get, through that, challenge get through three years of preparing. And work to, have your doors open in 2017. Yes, what, does that look like what was business like from that moment up, until like let's call it March when the world shut down, let's give us a pre-coated. Overview. Of the. Celsius business. It. Was. It. Was an incredible, community. Spot. Pretty much from the, beginning so um a, lot of our. Kind. Of immediate neighbors people in the community in the neighborhood, had. Followed. Along while, we were doing construction during. That was, roughly ten months of construction, and, you.
Know Me we've met them outside so, they knew, what was coming which, meant that on the day that we actually opened, our doors we had, customers. Lining. Up pretty much um and. Then yeah we just um we. Started building, our customer, base through, word-of-mouth. And. We. Were fortunate to get a ton of amazing, press, pretty early on so, the. Word about. Celsius, spread really, quickly and. We. Became, this very very. Fuzzy. Self-service. Laundromat, where you know like everyone and anyone could come in do their laundry um, sit. Upstairs, in. Our mezzanine, cafe have a cup of coffee you, also have a beautiful little backyard, so. There's also outdoor, seating and yeah. It was a really. This amazing. Community spot, but, we, when. We were looking at reports. Actually, end of last year, we, realized that we had a. Customer. Base that span, sounds. About 50, zip, codes, um so. It. Wasn't, only that we were in this you, know neighborhood, laundromat for for, so many people but, people, were also traveling, from, outside. Of Brooklyn from. Queens from, Manhattan. To add to, come to Celsius to get the laundry done. I. Love. The community aspect. Of it and we'll touch on it a little bit later but having. This huge momentum. For. Laundry, right but laundry, and community, and then, kovat hits pretty much overnight, so take, us through what that, moment was like when you heard about the shutdown and, how quickly, did you pivot your business, and then what, does current state business, look like given the, shutdown. So. It's. Funny. We. We, went over, the timeline, again recently, and we. Actually. Started. Putting. Measures. In place before. The. Shutdown was announced, in New York so the. Shotgun was announced on March. 22nd. But we both both, our husbands, are Italian, so we have family, in Italy and they. Had, already. Gone, through that process of shut down so we. Were. Prepared. That. That would happen to New York in you, know within. The next couple of weeks so, on on. March 12, we, actually, started. Increasing. Our, sanitizing. And disinfecting. Schedules. On-site, and, we. Put pants on a kaiser everywhere, we. We. Started, wearing masks, around that time as well as. Well as our team and then, we made the decision to close, the. Cafe. On. March 13, so, that was also, more. Than a week before we. Actually went into lockdown just, because we. We. Knew about social, distancing, and we. Didn't. Feel comfortable having customers. Congregate, in in the cafe area which especially, on the weekends. What's. Really busy and very buzzy, um and. Then. Over. The next the following week, we experimented. With, with. Different models and, trying. To just kind of limit, the number of people, in the space at any given time so. If, you've seen photos of cells as it does look very spacious, and we do have a, lot, of space but again. On on busy weekend days it. Could be really packed and we, started you. Know we started realizing that we didn't feel comfortable, her, team didn't feel comfortable and, customers. Were also starting to to. Feel you. Know we had, to do something, and then we, experimented. With I, think one weekend, where we asked. Everyone, to have, step outside of the laundromat after, they loaded their washers and we did the, dryer transfer, so we transferred. Their laundry from the washer to the dryer for, them and then, yeah, a. Couple. Of days so we did that for one weekend, and after, that we, made. The decision that that, still wasn't enough and, we. Actually had, to. Close. The self-service. Portion, of our, business completely. And switch. To a low contact, Java system so that's. What we did um. March. 18. Which. Again, was a couple of days before we actually went into lockdown um. We. Put. A system in place where, everyone. And anyone could just drop off their. Laundry, with. Us we would. Either wash, dry and fold it for them or wash. And bag which, was kind of the closest. Version, to self-service. Washing, bag without, folding um, and. Then yeah send them and send them an invoice and that they could pay at home, without. Having, to touch a screen or hand, over a credit card or even cash and then.
Yeah, We went. Into lockdown. On March 22nd. But, we already had our, system, place at that time. So. Super. Quick on a dime that you were able to kind of get, to. So. We closed our, doors, for. 24. Hours to, a figure, out what we wanted. To do moving forward and then implement, all the physical, changes, that we had so, what we actually ended up doing is. Creating. Kind of a barrier. That would create a. Ten-foot. Distance. Between, any customer, coming in and, then, our front, of house staff. So. In. In true celcius, form. We wanted to make sure that that still looked really, fun and welcoming, and calming, so we built this really big kind of plant walls and, then. Yeah. We, also. Have to obviously, figure out how we were going to process all this laundry we did wash dry fold so drop-off service before but, it was really a small, it, was a small percentage, of her business and we. Knew that you know we you have to be ready to. Now do a hundred a hundred percent of our business. As. Drop-offs so we had to pull in a massive. Amount of shelving, to even be able to store a few, hundred, bags. Within. Our walls which. We never had to before and, then we also made. The decision to initially. Keep. Our staff at home while, we were figuring out how, we could process the laundry, as safely, as possible so. Everyone, was, on pto. For. Two, weeks while they consulted. With health care professionals, to, figure out what exactly the risk was from, potentially. Any contaminated. Laundry, make, sure that we have all the, personal, protective, equipment in, place to, then have our team come back so it was. Yeah. Initially, it was 24, hours where we closed down but, then we basically continued. To refine. Pivot. Tweak, our, process. On on, literally. The basis yeah and it was in the beginning again, for the first two weeks just the, two of us so we did have to dial back our hours graphically. Just so we could physically. Handle. Everything that was coming in um. So. Yeah we went from being, open seven days a week to being, open only three days a week but. Yeah, we, stayed. Open and we, were able to serve, the community during, that time so. Let's go a little bit deeper into, that business shift right so the cafe shuts down you go from a self-service. Model. To, you, guys actually doing the work the two of you and then, slowly, bring your staff on as. It, was safe for them to do so what. Other ways has your, business changed right. I'm sure you've had commercial. Contracts. As well and, working, within the community restaurants. And so forth so, what is that part look like now and how have you been able to maybe. Make up for. The. Differentiation. And, the income that that you used to have coming in, sure. So we. We. Definitely. With. Self-service. Having, been our. Our. Main revenue, source, that. Completely. Fell away once. We decided, it going for the. Drop-off. We. We. Definitely were, struggling, for. Pretty. Good, amount of time um. The. The wash. And bag was, kind of the substitute, for that so we were able to make up for it a, little, bit but up. Until now we we haven't reached three Kovac, Kovac, revenue, streams, we. Again. Have. To close the cafe obviously. So that's, another that's. Another. Revenue, stream that that fell away as you, mentioned, our. Our. Commercial, clients, a lot of them have to shut down completely so we, were working, with a number. You. Know hair salons massage. Therapists. In the area so all of those yeah, also restaurants, all of those have to have to shutter their doors so.
That At all so. Lake pretty much overnight. We. Did. Business. With a. Number, of hotels in the area as well, who. Thankfully. Started. Housing, and, health care workers, um. During. The the coal bid period. During the first weeks. Pretty much up until now. So. We, were also working with them to make. Sure that anyone. They were housing, could. Get their laundry with us um so. So, that's one one, one, of the streams that we could could make up for a little bit and then, we've. Sins. Read. Out their website and so we migrated to Shopify, to be able to UM. Yeah. Push our product. Line. And and, our retail, portion. Of the, business more. Than than, we had previously, so. We did come out with, with. Their own range of, laundry. Care products, the beginning of this year and. Yeah. We also carry a number. Of third-party. Products. Oh yeah, we've been we've, been able to to. Ramp up that that side of the business the retail side and a little more as well seeing. Anything. The. Fact is you're using other. Resources like, Shopify, so, like what have you had to pull in and do differently there from a resource, perspective. To. Keep the momentum going, for attracting. Customers and, what, have been the differentiators, for, the local. Laundromats, that are around you. So. We. We've. Used Google Apps um, yeah. -, just. Keep. People informed and. Let, everyone know that that, we were still here operating. Except. Laundry, and. To bring in new, customers who. Often. Possibly, hadn't heard about us so. That's been that's been really helpful we. Did. Implement, a, booking. System as well, by. Our. Google, my business page, which. Allowed. Us to set. Up priority. Appointments. For, frontline. Workers. Need. To compromise. Families. With with. Young children so anyone. Who. Might. Not have, felt comfortable coming. In. During regular hours which, we're starting, to get a little crowded and there were lines forming, and so. That, has been a great, tool as well.
Social. Media yeah, social, media has. Pretty. Much since the beginning been. A, great tool for us to stay. Connected with our community, and reach out to. Potential. New customers, and I. Mean. Communicating. Through, those channels, um, during. COBIT. Times has been really really important, and we we've. Received. Really. Great feedback that you know us just being being. Open, and then communicating. Genuinely. And effectively, on any changes, that we. Were working on, anything. That you know had to be implemented, because. You. Know um, city, guidelines, were changing, pretty much fine by. The minute, um, yeah. Being being able to push, that out on social, media I'm on short notice has, been a super helpful as well. So. Community, has been something that you have, both mentioned a few times during. Our conversation. And. It's a testament to the success that you've had since. The moment that you open your doors so in this time like what are the ways that you are supporting. The community, and what, are ways that they are in turn support. Your business. So. The, number. One thing obviously, for, us. To. Support. Our community, was to stay, open and. To. Serve. The. Community, by by, doing laundry, so, we're. We're, really proud that we have. Been, able to do that without. Interruption. And. Yeah. As, I mentioned previously we. Did we, did implement the booking system. For. You. Know the more, vulnerable, part of the population. In. Order to really, make sure that everyone. And anyone who. Needed. Their laundry done during, these times and we obviously understand. That especially, during a. Pandemic. It, is really, important, to, get. Your laundry cleaned. And, he. Has as, sanitary. As as absolutely, possible so, in the, truest sense of the word we, are an, essential business and. I. Think. The. Community, has repaid. Us in in, so, so so many ways. We've. We've, gotten incredible, feedback. Great. Comments, great ideas. The. Community, and the neighborhood has really, stepped up we, created. A fun. Called laundry love where, anyone. In the, neighborhood or pretty, much any customer, Kinkaid, washes. Forward, to. You. Know the neighbors that may have been. Hearted. By the. Economic. Implications. And. The financial implications of. The. Pandemic so, that's, been amazing and then, we. Just yeah we received, incredible. Donations. For. Jumpsuits. Because. We needed to make sure that our team was able to have, you know be completely, covered when they're doing laundry. Additional. Show exactly, yeah so when we realized okay we needed more shelving, to, be able to store all the, laundry that was coming in all of a sudden. We. Had a couple, of you. Know customers, who were also business owners and didn't, use their shelving at the moment we donate, shelving, and so. Really, the outpouring. Of support from. Our community has been overwhelming, I.
Love. That I think I, think it's such a testament. To how. You showed, up for them, pre-coated. That. They're willing to step. In for you now to. Ensure that that. It just keeps going so, what's next for Celsius, I mean we're, starting, to peel back the, this shutdown orders, and beginning to open back, up again I mean. Not, knowing what's, to come over the next six months what's ideal State, for. For. You guys. Well. One. Thing that we, decided. Again, quite early on is that, we. Will, most likely be sticking, with the. Problem, system, as long, as social, distancing, guidelines, are in place, simply. Because during. That short period where, we try to limit, the. Number of people in this space trying. To enforce social distancing, between customers. And between my. Staff and customers we, realized, that that, would. Be a very, very, difficult. Way. To. Remain. Yep, to remain, financially. Sustainable. Just, because for, the. Self service of, course. As with, most businesses, it's just very important, to get as many people through. The doors as possible, so, as long as the social distancing, guidelines, are in place we will most likely be sticking with the drop-off service. So. In. It. For. That unfortunately. Nobody, and. We don't either have a, clear, idea of when those. Are going to be completely lifted, so that's just that's the reality yeah. Ideally. Obviously. We'll go, back to self-service. As as, soon, as we can but again. As Theresa, mentioned we'll we. Will, stick. To our no. Contact, system, as. Long as as, though social distancing. Guidelines are in place. Yeah. We'll. We'll. Try, to do everything, and, anything in, the meantime to, still. Serve the community, and. We're. Definitely excited. To. To. Build out the. Website and. In the retail side of of. Our operations. A little more during that time and. Yeah. Where everything else pretty, much time hotel yeah but. We really I think we're just using it as an opportunity, to, continue to innovate and, there's there's a lot of. Really. Incredible. Tech. Solutions, I think that we can still explore, to make the, service as seamless. As possible, so. Just looking, at everything else as a silver lining and continue. To refine our business, model. Touching. On innovation. What advice do you have for, other, businesses. Around that those. Businesses have remained open but are struggling, and for those businesses. Who are gearing up to open. Back up. So. One, one, thing that that. Definitely. Has been. My. My. Biggest takeaway, from from. All of this so far as. Communicating. Genuinely. And. Effectively. Any. Any. Changes. Is. Anything. Really that that's going on within, your business or anything you're planning, as much as you can share obviously. Has. Such. An incredible. Impact. On the. Community, banding, around you and ultimately then customers, being on board with whatever, change or, switch or innovation. You're planning, so, so that's been that's, been really helpful for us and I think that's also that the feedback that we've gotten is that throughout. The entire crisis. We we've, been open, about you, know what what is happening, and even if it's even, if it's things you don't know, like there were again, times where. Communication. From from, city officials or. State officials wasn't. Very clear, and then no, one really knew where where, we were headed and then just communicating. Openly that, you. Know we're just awaiting. Further information. And and, we'll keep you posted and, even if it's just that. There's. Actually, no over, communication. In a situation, like that so so that's one advice. That that. I would definitely give I think. Also. Asking. For help when. It's needed so, something. That that, I wish we would have done more, during. The. Conception. Phase and, then also building, out phase of Celsius is. Enlisting. The. Help of our. Neighbors in our community, i just, opened the asking, you know for for what we need and i think yeah, every, and anytime we we. Put out that that. Ask for help during. Drink or bit times please. We. Receive, incredible. Feedback. Hmm. Yeah. Touch, touch. Sorry. That's like um. Don't. Be afraid to. Pivot. And. Make. Decisions. Fast. And. It. Doesn't have to be perfect, again, you'll have time to. Tweak. And refine. But. Yeah, especially, in in crisis.
Situations. Just. Getting not getting. It done. Versus. Getting it done perfectly. Is, is. Really. Paramount yeah, I would. Just add to that, really. Just focus, on. The. Core value proposition of. Our business, so I, think. What. Really helped, us in those first weeks is that we, decided. To. Kind. Of strip. Back a lot of the other things that we were doing so just honing in on providing. The. Most. Sanitary. Laundry. Experience whatever that may look like so stripping, away the cafe, initially. Also. Suspending. Any focus, on. On. Our. Product. Line and then after. We we were completely. Set, with, the, the laundry offering, that's, when we started, to put some, of the other puzzle. Pieces back in but, for the initial few weeks our, sole, focus was. On that on that one service, and I think that really helped us. Make. The transition, so quickly. So. If I get some of the takeaways focus. Innovation. Community. Transparency. And. Vulnerability. To ask for help when. You're needed and not way, way down, the line I want. To try both. So, much Teresa and Corinna for. Sharing, your story with us sharing your business with us I know, for, sure when. Self service does open back, I'm coming with a bag of laundry so, I can hang out with you and the cafe. Really. Looking forward to that thank you ladies thank. You so much for having honest, things. Thank. You all for joining us today for this small business spotlight with Celsius I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did you'll. Be able to access a recording, of today's session by, clicking on demand, at G, co. Box. Slash grow. On air will. Be also sending, a follow-up email with a survey for you to fill out regarding, your experience, in the virtual workshop today it's, really important, to get feedback so, we can quickly improve, these sessions and offer, content, that is most helpful to other learners, thanks. Again for joining us here grow with Google on air don't, forget that you can sign up for some of our other upcoming live workshops, and events and even, watch videos on demand see, you next time.