100 Women We Love 2022: Jackie Aude & Paula Wegman

Jackie Aude & Paula Wegman

by Joshua Headley

Inspired by global bath culture and the need for queer- and trans-centered wellness spaces, Jackie Aude (l) and Paula Wegman founded hotbox mobile sauna—an inclusive refuge on wheels featuring a wood-burning sauna that offers much-needed respite and relaxation. As the first mobile sauna in NYC (complete with an outdoor shower built by their friend, “handy ma’am” Katie Whitaker), the sweaty sanctuary is an LGBTQ+-friendly space open to all. “We wanted to create a healthy, fun, accessible, and safer space for folks, especially our queer and trans family, to gather and connect,” they tell GO. Partners in business and in life, Aude and Wegman created their traveling sauna to be a safe, welcoming space where people can connect for conversation and self-care. The pair partner with other NYC-based small businesses to host monthly residencies throughout the city for folks to make meaningful connections, offer mutual support, or just spend time relaxing and sweating away the stresses of the day. Though COVID put a damper on hotbox mobile sauna for the past couple of years, Aude and Wegman have recently re-opened their pop-up sauna doors to small groups. They’re currently planning sauna events, gatherings, and collaborations with community members for the fall. Despite pandemic-related setbacks, the demand for hotbox mobile sauna is booming. “We’re planning on building another, slightly smaller mobile sauna to help expand capacity and pop-ups all around New York,” the couple says. So pop in for a sweat session or a heart-to-heart chat with a friend or stranger the next time hotbox mobile sauna rolls into your neighborhood. –LC

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