This article was last updated on Saturday, April 9, at 1:30 pm.
Sarka (pronounced Sharka) Havlatkova is a poised, whisper-thin 35-year-old who carries herself as if she had breezed through life without a care in the world. Not so.
The Czech native, who moved here at 22, was a driven business major pursuing a career in banking and finance. But, like her clear complexion that offers no indication of a long struggle with severe acne, her imperturbable nature betrays none of the pressures of striving in the corporate world.
Ms. Havlatkova speaks English, her second language, with a faint accent, as she describes how she began her current career as an esthetician and health coach who focuses on inner and outer beauty. In school, Ms. Havlatkova spent summers on the Vineyard working a variety of jobs. After graduation, she spent a winter here and took a job at an Edgartown salon. Though she wasn’t drawn to a career as a stylist, she found the environment and certain aspects of the business aligned with some of her interests.
“Growing up, on Sundays my mom and I always did a mask. I’ve been getting facials since I was in college. I’ve always loved skin care. but I never imagined that it would be a career,” she said in a recent conversation.
Ms. Havlatkova finished an esthetician course at the Blaine School in Hyannis. In 2010, she opened Revive by Sarka, located at Church and Main Natural Therapies, at Church and Main streets in Vineyard Haven, above Rainy Day. She shares the space with several alternative practitioners. She has a small, attractive studio decorated simply with a lovely soft-hued painting by Kara Taylor.
She describes her personal and professional philosophies on skin care this way: “I don’t look at esthetics as being about vanity. It’s about taking care of myself. Taking the time out of my day for myself. It’s about health. I feel like in America I have to teach people that it’s not a luxury. For 5,000 years, and still today in Europe, skin care is more of a maintenance.”
For facials, Ms. Havlatkova incorporates massage which, she notes, adds immensely to the stress reduction and revitalizing benefits of the experience.
You are what you eat
Ms. Havlatkova, who likes learning and immerses herself deeply in her chosen field, became interested in the nutritional approach to skin care and total health. She says that she was always aware that her skin responded to her diet. Since discovering that she was allergic to dairy and then changing her diet, she has been able to bring her acne under control.
While building a clientele for her skin care services, the energetic Ms. Havlatkova enrolled in a one-year program with the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, based in New York City. The school offers distance learning, which for a former commuting student, was an attractive option, and she earned a certificate from the school as a professional health counselor in January.
“I wanted to go back and learn how nutrition affects our skin and our well-being, and I was amazed. The school changed my life,” she says.
She talks a lot about controlling unhealthy cravings, a subject she explores with her clients. A former ice cream junkie, she explains, “We’re usually addicted to the foods we’re allergic to.”
But rather than denying the addictive foods, Ms. Havlatkova focuses on what she calls crowding out. “From the beginning, we start adding healthy foods. Foods that are loaded with nutrients. We adjust and try to put the body back into balance, and the body needs less artificial stimulation.”
She notes that people often substitute food for other gratifiers, she says, but never feel fulfilled. “I look at my clients’ eating habits and cravings. I try to deconstruct the cravings and figure out what their day was like. Every craving is a signal. The body is like a computer.”
She stresses, “The difference between a nutritionist and a holistic health coach is that we talk about the primary food. The primary food is the other parts of your life…It’s easy to forget about food when you’re doing something you love or when you’re with somebody you love.”
She wasn’t raised with religion in her life and says she never thought of herself as a spiritual person, but since studying the principles of integrated nutrition she has started setting aside some time each day to meditate and relax. “One of the main things that really spoke to me was when they said that even if you ate the healthiest food possible, if you’re not happy, you’re not healthy.”
Ms. Havlatkova extends her whole health philosophy to her skin care business, which includes facials, body treatments, waxing and makeup. She researches all of the products that she uses and insists on purity. Chemicals in skin care products and makeup seep into the skin and can be as detrimental to the skin and to overall health as chemical-laden foods.
She features a line of handmade organic skin care products from Hungary called Eminence, which is exclusively offered at her shop on the Island. The line, she says, is made of natural ingredients, including fruit juices, pulp, and actual chunks of blueberries, and flakes of coconut.
She often creates seasonally appropriate “recipes” such as chocolate covered strawberry and a coconut mango tropical vacation treatment. A facial becomes an experience akin to enjoying a fragrant, healthy, multi-course meal that leaves you feeling as if you’ve treated yourself to something nutritious — and delicious.
The mineral cosmetics line that Ms. Havlatkova uses for special occasion makeup and consultations is also all natural, and she sells all of the skin care products and makeup that she uses, as well as a facial massage and firming device and a line of herbal teas, both products she says she has researched extensively and endorses enthusiastically.
She is married and has two stepchildren, and her new business is profitable after just one year. “I’m very happy that I found this. I feel like I finally grew up. I really found my passion.”
Revive by Sarka offers skin care treatments and free health coaching consultations by appointment. Ms. Havlatkova will do holistic health and skin consultations at the WellFest, at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, on April 30.