Seventeen years after coming to the Vineyard from the Czech Republic, Sarka Havlatkova owns a holistic spa and natural beauty apothecary in Vineyard Haven that focuses on blending organic and natural products and services and the latest, cutting-edge technology.
You’re from the Czech Republic; how did you end up on Martha’s Vineyard?
It was just random. I came to see a friend who got married here. I had never heard of Martha’s Vineyard — it seemed like we were going to the moon because we didn’t know anyone who went to America. We thought it was a great place, so I started on H-2B visas, working seasonally here. I did that for about six years, and then when I decided I couldn’t handle the feast and famine of seasonal life -— too much work and then not enough — I thought I was just going to move back. But I met my husband-to-be, and then moved here year-round.
So what did you do prior to opening your studio?
Seventeen years ago I started working for the Chilmark Store. We stayed with friends on the Island, me and my friend. That’s how I actually got my green card. I went through all different jobs — catering, gardening, at an antique shop — and I did all sorts of things. Eventually I started working at a desk at a salon, and that’s when I got inspired. Skin care was always a passion, but I never imagined it was a career. Within six months of working there I went back to school for skin care.
How have things changed?
For me, since I started five years ago at my little Revive (upstairs from Rainy Day on Church and Main), I always felt like I had these wonderful products, but I got so busy that all my products were constantly behind closed doors. I started doing Wednesday afternoons open door, when people could just come in without making an appointment if they just wanted to buy their moisturizer. I eventually felt like I needed to be more on the street level and have proper shop hours. I came here (11 Beach Street, Vineyard Haven) and it just felt like it was the place. It seemed like it was meant to be — the energy just felt right. It kind of got big overnight.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you started the business?
Originally I felt working by myself, for myself, was the best thing, but I feel now that having a team is the best. It brings other perspectives and other people’s talents together, and we get inspired from each other.
What’s the best part of your job?
Working one-on-one with clients. My busy ladies tell me they’re always on the go and they never take naps during the day, and I love when 15 minutes in they’re dozing off. It’s so good to see how they come in all tense and tight and they leave just happy and relaxed and feeling good.
So what do you think is most important to skin and health care?
It’s about how we take care of ourselves. It’s not just what we put on our skin, but stress relief is huge, what we eat is huge, and exercising. It’s not just a quick fix.
What would you say makes your spa unique?
We look at the big picture. It’s not just about ingredients, but it’s helping clients — male and female — to reduce stress and to coach them into a healthier lifestyle. When they come in we want them to feel that they’re doing something for their health and for the health of their body and minds, not just for their skin.
Are you taking anything from your European lifestyle here?
I so often see that people think skin care or getting facials is a luxury. In Europe, we look at it as maintenance. Your skin is your largest organ, so before we get our hair colored at the stylist, a lot of people will get a facial. I think I started getting facials at maybe 17, because I had acne and I was trying to clean it up.
When we wear out our shoes, you can always throw them away, but you wear your skin 365 days a year, and you only have that one skin. You might as well take care of it, protect it, and nurture it.
Do you have a philosophy here?
We really are about healing and restoring the skin naturally. We have clinical products, and they’re cutting-edge technology, but still strictly natural and organic. That’s versus homemade products or health food products, or versus chemical products with lots of peeling and microdermabrasion — we don’t do that. We’re more about restoring the health of the skin, and being result-oriented.
Our products have been, for six years, voted best skincare products in the American Spa Magazine by skin care professionals. The aromatherapy body line that we carry here from London was voted best aromatherapy line last year. We have a “best wellness and supplement” line. We have very good, quality products with good technology that’s been proven to work, but it’s still all natural. That’s kind of been my goal, to get that word out. We’re not just smell good, feel good, fruits and vegetables. That’s what it is, but ingredients and things that are on the cutting edge of labs around the world are added to that natural base. That’s what I would really like to provide to the Vineyard and the rest of the world.
Revive by Sarka, Sarka Havlatkova
11 Beach Street, Vineyard Haven
(774)-521 6060, http://revivebysarka.com