Upstate MN

In Engage

“Who you are being is more important than what you are doing.” – Kristofer, Upstate MN

Tucked in the quaint downtown of Grand Marais, MN, nestled off the shores of Lake Superior, is a little shop called Upstate MN; a haven for those who want to take a little piece of craftsmanship home with them.

Colorful. A critical eye for detail. Vision executed to full capacity. Whimsical. Determined. Vibrant.

If these words blurred together, you would never know if we were talking about the store, or her curator, Kristofer. They exist together, listening to each other’s heartbeat  a pulse that holds original vision and passion. Kristofer’s positivity and enchanting banter permeates through the inanimate objects in the store as well, infusing every detail with his charm. One can’t help being swept up in their shared magnetism. To know one, is to know the other.

Having lived in the retail industry for quite some time, Kristofer decided to venture off on his own. “I’m a dreamer, but I’m a manifestor as well. I simply asked people to manifest with me. Believe in this with me. Believe in my artists. It’s a story about fear. Learning to risk it where you need to. You learn how to hold fear differently. You have to trust you will always be ok.”

His store Upstate MN opened its doors at the end of April 2016 and already boasts more than 60 different artists. Kristofer has a long history in design and retail which has nurtured a beautiful, cohesive relationship with artists around the world, highlighted in his comfortable, upscale modern shop.

Selling things, and having a storefront, is Kristofer’s way of seizing the opportunity to connect with people. No longer drifting in his search for self, Kris lives with intention. “I feel my steps. I know my body and space and have been blessed to live in poetic proportions.” Kristofer is a force, moving in confidence that comes from his soul. His personality begging you to explore your own creativity.

The pieces in the store are full of ranges of wood and greys, with striking punches of color.  They have the essence of water; clean, simplistic, and aromatic. Within its walls you can find eclectic key rings, heavenly smelling candles, one-of-a-kind scissors, unique pencil sharpeners, vintage clothing, jewelry, posters, hand thrown pottery, and one whimsical store owner.

When asked about the pieces and how he decides what finds a home in the store, Kristofer was adamant that the piece should have a harmonious feel. The items are cohesive–an extension of the store, not just reflective or showing images of it. The items needs to be in relationship with their surroundings. “There should always be sincerity in the items reflecting the heart of here.”

This storefront doesn’t simply allow products to dwell there until they are purchased, it gives license for every person, kid or adult, who never fit in to find a place where they too belong.

That, right there, is the heart of this story…the relationship between Kristofer and art, and art and the world. The connectedness of the world, and the people who live here. The community created with visitors to Upstate MN and its infectious, creative shop owner.

Hear what Kris says about this beautiful space with words taken directly from the heart of the captivating man himself from his website, Upstate MN.:

Upstate MN seeks to share stories and connect with humans through contemporary art and design…to share an ‘UP’ state of being.

This is the truth.  There are so many layers to what I want UPSTATE to be for you.  The brick and mortar has the main goal of connecting to humans and rippling love out into the world, while sharing the stories of artists, designers and makers and also helping to support artists, designers and makers.

I truly believe that by using beautiful and functional items in our daily lives we hold space for others and ourselves, changing our day and our experience, allowing ourselves to give more in the world.  I hope to honor artists and provide some of these items to you.

Thank you for being a part of this dream.

For believing in beauty and artists and good humans.

I am so grateful to share this with you.

With love always,


It was such a gift to meet you, Kristofer! Thank you for all the time you spent with Kat and myself. We are grateful for the gentle and fun way you interacted with our children, and the fullness we felt when we parted ways.

Be sure to follow Kris on instagram for your daily dose of beauty and inspiration. He is delightful, full of vigor, enchanting, adoring, generous, and intense. Once you’ve met him, you cannot walk away unaffected.

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