Today on Sauna Talk, we are warmed to welcome Saara Lehtonen, founder and lead proprietor of Kaurilan Sauna in Helsinki, Finland.
In Finland, those well familiar to sauna, which includes just about everyone, will tell you that “every sauna has its own soul.” And for those not convinced, or those who may be at all suspect to this fact, I encourage you to get to Helsinki and pay a visit to Kaurilan Sauna.
Before we get started, I’d like to extend a big thank you to Samuli, owner of Iki Stoves, who brought me to Kaurilan Sauna to meet Saara. A wood fired Iki Stove was idling away as we arrived. And here we see Samuli delivering to Saara a sauna spoon for her Iki sauna.
I spent an hour with Saara, and there were moments in this interview, where I was heavy with emotion. This was about my 40th sauna in less than 10 days, so I was somewhat wonderfully delirious as it was. And Kaurilan Sauna is a spiritual place. Our conversation was full and affecting and the sauna elves were present. As we shared some mutual fervent sauna passion, well, a few waves of emotion overtook me. So, apologies, and yet with no editing, you’ll have an opportunity to meet this extraordinary entrepreneur, saunapreneur, saunameister, sauna creator, sauna inventor, sauna proprietor.
Kaurilan sauna is Saara’s sanctuary which she opens to share her special place with others.
It is quiet, and close to nature. No electricity, but candle lit, exclusively, where guests leave their mobile phones alone for a coupe hours of sauna sanctity. This is a country sauna, right inside the city of Helsinki. Reachable by tram.
“There is something this place does to people, and it must come out. You want to share what you are carrying inside yourself.” Oh, how right she is.
We discuss the decline of public saunas in Finland, and then starting about 10 years ago, when Saara created Kaurilan Sauna, we start to see the renaissance of public saunas, the “urban sauna revival.” There is the resurgence of the few old school saunas still in operation in Helsinki (Hermanni, Kotiharjun) hold overs from when there were as many as 150 public saunas in the city proper. And there is the birth of new public saunas in bar/restaurant settings (Uusi, Loyly) as well as the free range Sompasauna: “we all own it, and nobody owns it.”
“Sauna is a place where you can imagine.”
Saara has imagined and created over 100 products. She started making candles, as candles are the only source of light in her sauna. She started making linen towels, and selling them to guests. She started developing skin care products, not just because she has delicate skin. “All these products are born in the sauna.”
Product innovation happens from working with ladies. Listening to their needs and trying out her products with her guests. Refining.
Creating products as part of sauna works because in sauna, her mind is at peace. She has the time to think and listen. Free time to think and apply the DIY ethos.
How does Saara have the time to run her public sauna, as well as run production and distribution of 100 sauna related products?
“When you do what you feel is important, or what you love, it doesn’t make you tired.”
Please welcome to Sauna Talk the tireless creator of soulful sauna, Saara Lehtonen
Saunatimes is proud to import 5 of Saara’s top selling ORIGINAL NATURAL COSMETICS FROM FINLAND, including Apricot Shampoo, Lemongrass Conditioner, Peppermint foot bath, and sea salt conditioner. Developed in the sauna, tested with guests in the sauna, refined in the sauna. A great gift to share with someone you love who loves sauna.