A new business in Duluth hopes to help community members improve their health — by sweating it out in a sauna.
Cedar and Stone Nordic Sauna will soon offer Nordic-style saunas to individuals and groups, with a focus on health. It’s a large mobile sauna that will move between locations in the area for residents and tourists to use.
Founder Justin Juntunen sees the business as a way to address a need for a community space focused on wellness. He said, personally, using a sauna relieves more stress than other practices and results in his best nights' sleep.
“The thing I really want to see revived is … space that is built around wellness, not just … built around alcohol or coffee,” Juntunen said. “I love our breweries and our coffee shops, (but) we can have other ones.”
The business is seeking a partner in the hospitality industry, such as a hotel, where he can station the sauna for periods of time. This will drive business to the sauna, as well as to the partner, he said.
Once he finds a first partner, Cedar and Stone will open for individual and group use. Sessions can be purchased online, which include sunrise, happy hour, athletic recovery and women-only. Groups can also reserve use of the entire space.
His goal is to run 3,000 people through the sauna over the next year, of which he said he estimates one-third will be visitors to the area.
The 10-person sauna is tucked inside of a matte black building, accented with wood paneling, large windows and buckets for fresh splashes of water if a lake isn’t nearby. Panels cover the trailer’s wheels and hitch, hiding any evidence that it’s mobile.
Inside, a clean entryway houses storage cubbies for personal items, shelves of merchandise, a long bench and a hydration station.
Friend Angela Smith said she has watched as the sauna was taken from blueprints to completion.
“He’s thought of every little detail … like the scent of the candles to the sauna steamer tea that people get when they come,” she said. “I knew what the physical building was going to look like, but to see all the details that he has put into it is surprising and really cool.”
The sauna is located past a door in the entry room. True to its name, the smell of cedar wood, which makes up most of its interior and benches, fills the sauna. And a stove topped with large stones heats the room, which an intricate cage made of cedar surrounds to ensure children and others don’t bump into it.
But the showstopper is two large panels of glass that fill walls at one end of the space, bringing the outside in.
“In Duluth, if there's one thing we have in spades, it's water, cold and nature,” Juntunen said. “So we've built a sauna that has panoramic windows so that you can look at Lake Superior or wherever we happen to be.”
Most saunas aren’t high-end, Nordic designs like this, Juntunen said. He hopes the design style will be more inviting than saunas commonly found in homes.
“I'm trying to open the door to share that experience because it is so good — no matter which one you're in,” Juntunen said.
He has two types of customers in mind: locals and tourists.
For locals, he envisions saunaing as part of their wellness routine. To help people achieve this, Cedar and Stone has subscription packages available for purchase.
As for visitors, saunaing completes a visit to the “sauna capital of the world,” he said.
“This is one of those experiences of the North that is going to fit really well at the bottom of Superior, or on the Lakewalk on Canal Park,” Juntunen said.