A pair moving back to the Upper Peninsula have brought a new business with them, literally.

Brandon Frisk and Shawnee Rajala have opened up Sauna on Kumma, a mobile Finnish sauna. It’s a traditional wood-fired and stone sauna that seats up to six, but is built directly onto a trailer for portability. Frisk and Rajala designed the sauna themselves during the pandemic and had to go all the way to Texas to find a trailer before construction could begin in downstate Fowlerville.

Now the sauna has opened for the first time in the region, at Coast Guard Point in Grand Marais.

“Once people understand what we’re trying to do, the light bulbs go off and they start getting excited,” Frisk said. “We want to bring business to these underutilized areas and showcase the beauty of the area a little bit while enjoying a sauna.”

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula, but living downstate for work, Frisk and Rajala often found themselves on the beaches of Lake Michigan. The two enjoy cold plunges and often thought to themselves about how nice it would be to enjoy a hot sauna like they did when growing up in Marquette and Houghton Counties.

“Every Saturday was a sauna and swim session. My grandfather would call out ‘Sauna on Kumma’, which roughly means ‘The sauna is hot,’ and we would enjoy it as a family,” Rajala said.

Portable saunas are popular in Minnesota, but have not been available in widespread capabilities in the Upper Peninsula before. Popular with both locals and tourists so far, the pair is hoping that the mobile saunas can help showcase long-standing Finnish and Yooper traditions.

“We’re here for anyone who comes to visit the area, but hoping that locals will also join in,” Rajala said. “We’re super excited to share that experience.”

Grand Marais was not originally the debut location for Sauna on Kumma, but local regulations were already established in Burt Township. With the municipal transient vendor process already in place, getting started was expedited in Grand Marais compared to their original target of Marquette.

“It’s pretty cut and dry because they have a process for transient merchants, so that process is really simple. In Marquette, that is still being developed,” Frisk said.

Frisk and Rajala said that the sauna will stay in Grand Marais and will move onto another location later in the summer. The pair brought up Copper Harbor, Munising, and Marquette as other possible testing locations for the business, with the possibility of building up to five other travelling saunas.

“We’re looking at other harbor towns on Lake Superior and if it takes off, maybe working with state parks and campgrounds,” Frisk said. “Our main mission right now is to see if people want it.”
More information and the ability to book reservations is available on the company’s website saunaonkuuma.com.