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A Latvian native is excited to send you one of her sauna whisks for even better sauna enjoyment

Saunatimes interview series continues.

Please welcome Kristine, owner and founder of Saunagoods.  Kristine is all about sauna whisks.

Hi Kristine.  So sauna whisks.  They’re called Vihta in Finland, and Venicks, I believe, in the Baltic region.  Can you describe for readers what they are and what function they provide for the sauna bather?

Yes, you are right, in Finland the sauna whisks (also broom) are called Vihta or Vaasta, in Russia they call them Veniks, in Latvia we call them “pirts slota”, in other Baltic states – Estonia and Lithuania the whisks are called in their own names and in their own languages.

birch_freshWhy to use sauna whisk? Well, here, in Northern Europe the sauna without whisk is not imaginable. Massage with sauna whisk boosts blood circulation in the body and produces a substance that kills harmful bacteria. The essential oils from leaves effects as natural body lotion, the skin gets soft and gentle. Moreover the massage with sauna whisk has also function of aromatherapy. Experienced sauna goers use sauna whisk as the second part of their bath procedure. First, they go into the steaming room to open all the pores of their body and cleanse themselves from toxins. Afterwards they take a shower. During this time sauna whisks are soaked in a little tub of water (30 minutes in cold water and afterwards 2 minutes in hot water). Then, after a short rest, a person goes back into the steaming room and starts the beating with sauna whisks all over the body. After the steaming room with sauna whisk there’s nothing better than dipping oneself in a cold-water pool. The difference of temperatures will give you an immediate blood rush and will keep you in high spirits for a long time afterwards.

How long do your sauna whisks last?  What is the best way to take care of them between sauna sessions? 
Usually one can use sauna whisk 2-3 times. The best way to take care of the whisks between sauna sessions is to leave them in warm sauna on a bench and to let them get dry naturally. When the whisk is dry, put it in a dry place. The most important thing is – you have to protect the whisk from moisture otherwise it will grow moldy.
 Regarding your system for making sauna whisks, you mention that you make them in Latvia, a country that is 40% forrest.  That’s a lot of small tree branches.  But who is out there making your sauna whisks and how is it done?  

The manufacturing period is very short: sauna whisks are made during the summertime, usually from June till the middle of July. In this period tree leaves are rich with essential oils and aroma.  However the cutting and manufacturing period for every kind of sauna whisk may vary. For example, the maple and oak whisks are longer lasting if made at the end of July.

kristine's sauna whiskOur sauna whisks are 100% hand-made by Latvian native. After the tree twigs are cut, they are tied on using thin pieces of natural linen string and dried in well ventilated barn. When whisks are dry enough, they are individually packed into bags that provide the whisks with air circulation and protect from mustiness. Individual bags also make whisks more convenient to store and ship. When we receive the order, we put the whisks in carton box and ship them with regular post (USPS in US) from Latvia to other countries.  By the way! Great news! Starting from November 2015 our sauna whisks will be available also locally in US – in our online store www.saunagoods.com

 How do you ship them?  You offer 16 varieties.  I have to ask, how come so many and how do you manage that inventory?

Yes, at the moment we do offer 16 types of sauna whisks. At the very beginning we offered birch and oak whisks only – the ones that are most famous around. In our sauna at home we have always used also other sauna whisks, like maple, linden, mix, hazel, rowan because every whisk has its own touch, its own aroma and by the way, every single person must find its own sauna whisk! My whisk is maple – I love the sweet scent of maple leaves, the gentle touch of large leaves, it is very soft whisk. As I am a great sauna fan, every single summer I make many new types, in wintertime I go to sauna, test them and the best are offered to our customers. It is not an easy job – to introduce people with different types of sauna whisks, people prefer classics. By offering different types of sauna whisks I want to show the people that the pleasure of sauna experience can be reached in higher levels. And by the way, this way one can save also money – if you use, for example, mix sauna whisk, you don`t have to buy any aromatic oils – once you will put mix sauna whisk in water, all the sauna will be provided with natural scents of chamomile, mint, meadowsweet, blackberry etc. Isn`t it wonderful?
A few words about sauna history and culture?
Sauna has very long history in Northern Europe, for example, it is known that in Latvia people went to sauna already in 8. Century. In 19 Century in every house one could find sauna. Sauna was kind of sacred place where people could clean their body as well as soul. People used to go in sauna on Saturday evenings, when all the week jobs have been done and just before the Sunday – the only off day. What I find very interesting about sauna – it was also the place where the childbirth took place. By the way, it is getting popular these days again – with an assistance of professional doctors but yes, it is!

Tell us a little more about you, Kristine.  How long have you been at this?  Is this your full time gig?  Where do you live and do you get to sauna regularly?  If so, where and how?

I have started this business in 2008 with making birch and oak sauna whisks only. At the very beginning it was my hobby only. I have spent winters in Austria where I was working as a ski instructor in Alps and I`ve spent the summers at home – in Latvia. As I have grown up in countryside I have always been connected with nature and I always loved the nature, so, I just started to make sauna whisks in my free time. People who tried them where satisfied, they came back to me again and again and so the requests grew up. It was really not intention to make the business out of it at the very beginning. But it is my full job now. I really really love my job!

I spend the summers in Latvia. Starting from May when we prepare for new manufacturing season till the end of August when all the whisks are packed, it is a really hard and intensive work. The rest of the year we sell what we have manufactured. Winters I spend in Florida, where my boyfriend lives. Thanks to him I have changed my winter location from Austria to Florida – from total winter to total summer 🙂 The love to nature follows me everywhere – in Florida we have created a garden where we grow tomatoes, a lot of different types of greens, cucumbers, watermelons etc.

I am going to sauna almost every Saturday when I am in Latvia and I always use different sauna whisks. In summer I cut fresh twigs from the trees right around the corner, I mix them according the mood and feelings I am in at that moment. It is a creative process. In winters I use sauna whisks made by SaunaGooods.

During the sauna session I also drink natural sauna tea that I have collected in local meadows.

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