Meet Your Merchant

Five years and counting.

Sarka Havlatkova is the owner of Revive by Sarka, a holistic spa on Beach Street in Vineyard Haven. Photo by Cathryn McCann

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,

Going on 15 years.

Julie Huot at the counter of Treat Yourself Spa. Photo by Sam Moore

Fourteen years ago Julie Huot and her sister Isabelle Morley opened a tanning salon on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Today the multi-service spa offers much more, and still has tanning, too.

So you first opened as a tanning salon? How did that happen?

Julie: Isabelle was living here and I was visiting. I was trying to go tanning, and I finally found a salon that offered it here, but I would have to wait two weeks for an appointment, it would cost $20. I couldn’t believe it. I told Isabelle, and she remembers me saying “I’m going to open a tanning salon.” I don’t remember that, but she does. When we first started talking about it, everyone said we were crazy, which we are. But we’re good crazy. Within six months we had it opened. Isabelle found the place on Circuit Avenue just by asking around — she knows everyone. When we first started we had only one bed, then people started asking for the standup booth.

How did it evolve into the spa it is today?

As our clients kept coming in for tanning they were asking us if we had other services. We realized the demand for additional offerings and we added them over the years. I went back to school to get the necessary licenses for nail tech and esthetician. I was living on the Island, working at the spa, and three nights a week I would commute to New Bedford after work to attend school, sleep at a friend’s house, and commute back in the morning to open the spa.

What was your background before that?

I had gone to school for business administration and interior design; I have degrees in both. I remember my first internship at my uncle’s company. I had to sit behind a desk all day, and I remember thinking, “Can I really do this? Can this be my future?” I couldn’t imagine having to do that every day. I like the craziness of the spa industry, especially here in the summer. I like to feel like I’m improving everyday.

How did you decide on the name Treat Yourself?

I feel better about myself when I get to treat people. There is a lot of stress of the everyday, and I love providing a place for people to come and relax, and to be able to leave feeling better about themselves. I know when I don’t feel good about myself it affects everything I do. It’s important for people to find the time to treat themselves, so that’s where the name came from. When we first opened, Isabelle’s friend came up with the name Treat Yourself, and it just seemed perfect. It’s also important to me to take care of people when they need it most. We’ve offered complimentary services to clients with cancer, to help them through their hard times and to offer them something to look forward to. And to give them the chance to feel better about themselves and feel beautiful. It just feels right to do the right thing.

What does Treat Yourself offer today?

The spa and beauty industry have evolved so much over the past several years; it’s really taken off. People are really realizing how important these services are. I couldn’t have imagined 14 years ago that a tanning salon would evolve into this. Today we offer manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, customized makeup products and application, lash extensions, waxing, airbrush tanning, and indoor tanning. We also just launched a partnership with SkinMD laser and cosmetic group. Friday, Oct. 30, from 9 to 3 pm, their team will be on hand to offer Botox and filler procedures. Give us a call to reserve a spot.

What are some of the services you’re most excited about right now?

We now offer Xtreme Lashes Eyelash Extensions. They’ve become very popular, and create longer, thicker, more beautiful-looking eyelashes, but also look really natural. They’re the best brand on the market. They mimic your natural eyelashes and are applied individually to a single eyelash. They’re fun for special occasions, but ideal for an enhanced everyday look. We also carry the Motive makeup line, which offers custom blend foundation. It’s virtually impossible to find the perfect foundation off the shelf, and with this we can match your skin perfectly. We’re also doing a hot stone pedicure which uses warm, smooth stones to help provide deeper muscle relaxation — it’s a great treat for the cooler months! This time of year it’s even more important to take care of yourself and keep your skin healthy and moisturized. We offer a basic facial and a signature facial which includes a specific enzyme for your skin type as well as a paraffin treatment. There’s also the mini facial, which is a quick and easy way to get the same benefits for someone on the go. This time of year I also highly recommend a peel, which speeds up your skin’s natural exfoliation process and helps keep your skin looking younger. We’re offering a lot of specials right now, so give us a call, or just walk in and treat yourself!

Treat Yourself Spa, 38 Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs. Open Monday through Saturday. 508-696-3800,

In year two, growing fast.

Deanna Cote, Dr. Dina BenDavid, and Jade Mazza at the Center for Cosmetic Enhancement and Wellness office in Edgartown. Photo courtesy of Dina BenDavid

After 12 years in the health care field, Dr. Dina BenDavid opened the Island’s first cosmetic enhancement center in 2014.

What inspired you to get into the cosmetic and wellness field?

I have experience doing family practice and women’s health, and I always approached patients from a holistic perspective. That sort of sparked my interest in wanting to enter the field of medical aesthetics, so I went for trainings and advanced trainings and just kept going, and now I have a pretty wide service menu. Everything I perform here I have the training and certification to do.

So what originally attracted you to the health care field?

I have been in health care for 12 years now. I started off as a nurse, then I became a nurse practitioner, then most recently I got my doctorate.

How did you end up on the Island?

I came here as a traveling nurse over 10 years ago. Then, on a personal note, I met my husband, and two kids later, I’m still here. I can’t wait to tell my kids that story someday; it will be so fun, how it came to be.

So you came here, met him, and never left?

Yeah, pretty much. When you go anywhere as a traveling nurse, you have to sign a contract, and I signed a contract for three months or something, and then I signed another three-month contract to be here, then I signed another contract for three months. Finally I was like, OK, what are we doing here?

What was it like starting out?

It’s difficult when you’re starting any type of business — working out kinks and figuring out the logistics and the flow. I started out as the sole person. I did everything myself — checking in people, checking out people, scheduling, all that kind of stuff. As the business grew, as word got out, I had to add a secretary, I added a nurse, I added an aesthetician. We’re only growing here, so it’s super-exciting. And it’s definitely growing faster than I thought it would. I thought it was going to be slower, but it’s definitely catching on. We do a lot of quality work, we take a lot of pride in what we do here, and I think the work speaks for itself.

What’s the best part of your job?

Our goal here is to enhance, rejuvenate, and improve our patient’s appearance, well-being, and sense of self. Empowering women and men is a gift of unsurmountable worth. Treating a young teen who’s battling cystic acne, which obviously impacts her self-esteem, or treating an elderly woman who’s looking to lift her spirits after her husband has passed away — these things are as rewarding as they are humbling. They tell us how we have inspired them, but the truth is that they really inspire us. This is not about vanity, it’s about empowering someone to be the best that they can be by helping them feel better about themselves.

Do you find that people make the assumption that it’s about vanity?

There’s a huge misconception, and education is such a profoundly important piece of what we’re trying to do here. It’s not just about aesthetics, it is about making someone feel better about who they are as a person. And this holistic understanding and approach is what fueled us to enhance the wellness services that we’re offering.

What are some holistic services that you offer?

We are expanding our wellness program to include bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and Myer’s cocktail infusions, among other many exciting new offerings. Myer’s cocktail is an intravenous vitamin infusion used to enhance your immune system, combat fatigue, pain, and a multitude of other conditions. It’s often used to reduce symptoms of a classic hangover. The treatment was pioneered by a physician who studied the profound impact of nutrient cocktails on both acute and chronic conditions.

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT as it’s often referred, is an individualized approach to pinpointing a person’s exact hormone levels and deficiencies and replacing them with biologically identical hormones. Patients often ask me what’s the difference between this and synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones differ in their chemical structure and functionality; bioidenticals have the same structure as hormones created naturally in the human body. We’re focusing on pellet implants, as this mode delivers consistent physiological levels and bypasses the liver, thus avoiding complications and side effects. BHRT is consistently shown to improve cardiovascular health, menopausal symptoms and hot flashes, sex drive, chronic headaches, depression, anxiety, insomnia, just general aches and pains. It’s really an amazing, very natural treatment.

What have been the challenges in opening your business?

I have very little business background. My education is essentially clinical — my degree is a doctorate. There’s very little exposure to how to run a business and that type of thing, so that’s been a little bit of a challenge, but I have a lot of colleagues in the industry who have been great mentors. Part of someone’s growth in doing something like this, or even just life in general, is making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. If you can accept that and understand that, you can grow as a professional and individual.

Is there another place like this on the Island?

No, we’re the only medical spa on Martha’s Vineyard. We are full-service, so we do offer a vast array of treatments. We offer skin rejuvenation, resurfacing and firming, wrinkle reducing, facial contouring, fat reduction and body reshaping, a hair restoration program, laser hair removal, vein treatments, medical weight loss, and we are just now adding a new permanent makeup service. We’re super-excited; she’s a renowned permanent makeup artist and she’ll be joining our team. She specializes in the latest techniques in permanent eyebrows, eyeliner, and lips. She’s also certified in areola pigmentation, which is a specialty area of medical tattooing that will help repigment the areola after breast reconstruction, which helps improve the self-esteem of patients who have undergone a mastectomy and breast surgeries.

Do you work other jobs?

I have like so many, it’s crazy. I have a primary-care practice off-Island. Two days a week I work at a community health center in inner-city New Bedford, serving the underserved population. It’s challenging but very rewarding. I’m also a professor for master- and doctoral-level nursing courses at Maryville University and Southern New Hampshire University. Does being a mom of two kids count?

I think that counts. How do you juggle all of that?

It’s pretty difficult. Having good, supportive friends and family is big, and just having that desire and motivation to really want to excel and help people.

Do you have any advice for others juggling multiple jobs?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I hate to sound so clichéd, but it is really true.

Martha’s Vineyard Center for Cosmetic Enhancement and Wellness, Dr. Dina BenDavid, D.N.P., M.S., F.N.P.-C. 17 Winter Street, Nevin Square, Upper Level, Edgartown;, 508-627-0352.


Ellen Wolfe has owned Once in a Blue Moon, a contemporary art, clothing, and jewelry store, on Winter Street in Edgartown for 20 years.

Ellen Wolfe in front of Blue Moon in Edgartown, which she has run for 20 years. –Photos by Cathryn McCann

MV Times: What’s your background?

Ellen Wolfe: Well, I have a strong fine arts background. I majored in painting and graphics at the University of New Hampshire, and then I got a master’s degree in teaching art from Wesleyan University. So I come to this business from a very different place from a lot of retailers, because my background is really art.

MVT: How did you end up on the Island?

IMG_3790.jpgEllen Wolfe: I’m from the Boston area. It was a long path to the Island, but I had a small business in Brookline that was not clothing and jewelry. It was crafts with a particular focus. That business got really slow in the summertime, so I thought I’d really like to have another place to go in the summertime. So I looked at Provincetown, I looked at Newport, and here. I came here and I had a real estate agent show me what was available for retail space, and there was a space that was going to be open in Nevin Square, and I just took it, without too much consideration. I think it was in October of 1994. I also had her show me a house, because I knew I was going to be on the Island. I thought, ‘Well, what I should do is buy a really inexpensive house.’ So I did, I just did it. I came in March of 1995 and worked on my space, worked on my house, both of which were in dire need, and got them into shape for the 1995 season. And that was my first year. Now I’ve called the Island home for 21 years.

MVT: How have things changed over the years?

IMG_3786.jpgEW: When I first started this business, it was a very different store. Since my background is in art, I was primarily interested in contemporary craft, mostly from England and the United States. I had that sort of single focus for about five years. Then what I really wanted to do was add jewelry, all very contemporary, artist-made jewelry, but I couldn’t see fitting it into that location, which was way too wide open. I think jewelry needs a more intimate setting, so I rented a second space on Winter Street. For two years I had two stores. Then I realized the absurdity of having two locations. This became available, and it seemed the right setting for both jewelry and contemporary craft, which is how I started out here.

Around that time I opened another store called Bananas with a partner, Judy Hartford, who still owns Bananas. That was kind of a serendipitous store. We carried a lot of clothing, but clothing was not what I knew or what I had a real feeling for. I had to work my way into that. After we had been doing that for a couple of years, I decided to add clothing here. And I’ve since become really interested in clothing in a way that I never was before. After a while, I decided again that one store was more than enough to handle. I decided just to do this full-time.

MVT: How did you come up with the name of the store?

EW: My store in Brookline was called the Necessary Angel. The Necessary Angel is the imagination, and it came from the poet Wallace Stevens. When I moved here, I started out with that name in the first year, and then I realized that wasn’t the right name for the Vineyard. I looked hard at what other names were being used, and I saw that there were a lot of names with color. And Once in a Blue Moon sort of picks up on the idea that what I carry is unusual.

MVT: What makes what you carry unusual?

EW: It’s a mix of clothing, jewelry, and art. That alone makes it somewhat unusual. The focus is good design in all those areas. I look for original materials, especially in jewelry. I’m interested in artists working in nontraditional materials, in nontraditional ways. I carry somewhat bold jewelry. I’m interested in bold looks. My interest in the clothing is having anyone who walks through the door, no matter what age, what shape, size, walk out with the things that will make them look the best they can possibly look. I do a lot of clothes from Japan, because I think Japanese design and clothing are gorgeous. I do a lot from Germany, certainly a lot from the United States, and some from Italy.

MVT:You wrote a book (Blue In Your Hair, Green on Your Chair).

EW: I did write a book! It’s a book about a little girl who wants to make a birthday present for her father. It’s really about making things as opposed to buying things, and doing something creative. She thinks of a variety of things that she could do, but finally what she decided was what she knows best, and what she knows he likes is artwork, because since she was a little girl they visited museums together. So this little girl decides she can paint her father pictures for his birthday, and she launches this project, and it’s really about her discovering what she can do.

MVT: What would you say to sum up your experience of owning this store?

EW: This is a great place to be in business, because of the intimacies that one can develop with clients. There are year-round people, there are summer residents, there are people who come for one week every year and they always come back to the store. It really has to do with relationships.

Mark Crossland began his landscaping business in 1975. Forty years later, his children are taking over what has become the family business.

Keith Crossland and his sister, Zoe Shanor. Their brother Kyle helps them run Crossland Landscaping. – Photo by Cathryn McCann

The Times recently sat down to speak with Zoe Shanor, Keith Crossland, and Kyle Crossland, the children of Mark Crossland, about their interest in the family business their father began 40 years ago.


MV Times: What’s your background?

Mark Crossland. Courtesy, Crossland Landscaping.
Mark Crossland. Courtesy, Crossland Landscaping.

Zoe Shanor: I’m from Oak Bluffs, born and raised. So are my brothers. My dad used to own Crossland’s Nursery, which is where Mahoney’s is today. I remember the greenhouses, and I remember driving around on the golf cart, things like that. My mom was a gardener, so she would bring me to gardens when I was a little girl and just have me sit while she did her work. But for the longest time I just wanted to have nothing to do with plants. Probably because both of my parents were involved, I was just totally against it. I went to school for journalism, but then I switched to horticulture in my second year and studied plant, soil, and insect sciences.

Keith Crossland: I studied landscape construction at UMass.

Kyle Crossland: I also studied at UMass Amherst. I got a degree in environmental design. I just kind of grew up with it and grew to love it. Then I went out to Arizona and studied ecological design at Ecosa Institute in Prescott, Ariz. In Arizona they have a lot more water conservation issues that are at the forefront there because of the nature of the climate and the droughts out West. I tried to take some of what I learned out there and apply it to water management strategies for the Vineyard.


MVT: How has the business changed in 40 years?

Zoe: It hasn’t, much. We have a lot of the same customers that we had 40 years ago. Things have changed in the green industry, and we’ve adapted to those, but the principles have stayed pretty much the same. Forty years ago, people were a little bit less aware about chemicals, sprays, things like that. We try to focus as much as we can on being sustainable and keeping these lawns looking perfect without spraying them heavily.


MVT: How do you split up the business responsibilities?

Zoe: I deal with the gardening and the overall property maintenance — pruning, fertilizing, deadheading, things like that — keeping the places looking really nice. Flower gardens, shrub planting, containers. Kyle takes care of the irrigation, watering the lawns, watering the shrubs, the trees, adjusting to certain conditions with erosion. He works with the land a lot; he knows how to make the topography most successful with the plants that you choose, and the water. And then Keith, he does the construction. He’s the machine guy. He knows how to drive the Bobcat. He also runs the excavator and digs big holes.

Kyle: On my end, if a client wants an irrigation system installed for their lawn area, or planting beds or something like that, they’ll call us up and I’ll come down there and we’ll lay out an irrigation system for them to maximize uniformity and efficiency. On all our systems we install rain sensors, so when it’s raining outside the rain sensors automatically click on and turn off the system. Another water conservation strategy that we employ is using drip irrigation, which is very efficient for planting beds and vegetable gardens and things like that.


MVT: Did your roles come naturally to you?

Zoe: I guess so. Kyle was doing maintenance for a long time, but then he went to school in Arizona where he learned about water conservation and just fell in love with it. And then he came back and said, ‘Hey, I’d really like to run the irrigation. This is what excites me.’ For me that sounds very boring — I’d prefer to work with the flowers and with the soil — but Kyle likes the water. Keith has got this artistic side that helps him with the stonework and the bluestone patios and things that he does.


MVT: What are the hard parts about this business?

Zoe: It’s seasonal. That’s tough. We work really hard through December, and then January and February we’re kind of itching to get back out there. It’s such physical work for 10 months out of the year, and then nothing. So what do you do? You go on vacation or you study. I try to spend my winters traveling and visiting botanical gardens and gardens elsewhere as much as possible.

Kyle: There’s certainly challenges working with family and that dynamic. We learn to work it out daily, we learn to communicate well, but that’s certainly a challenge. But it’s a close communication, because constantly we have eyes on all our properties. There’s no middle man, it goes right to the source. If there’s an issue, like a client talks to Zoe and says, ‘We’re having trouble with the irrigation, this area is kind of dry, the sprinkler head is broken,’ or something like that, she’ll call me up and I’ll handle it immediately, rather than taking the roundabout route where the client will have to call the irrigation company. We’re in close communication, and that makes things go a little smoother.

Keith: The hot summer months.

 MVT: What do you foresee for the future of the business?

Kyle: I guess I foresee moving more toward ecological landscapes and environmentally organic landcare, switching more to that. Last winter the towns passed a fertilizer restriction, and so the towns are already trying to implement strategies to lessen the nitrogen load into our ponds, and as landscapers we’re on the frontline of that by being able to foster organic landcare strategies. And also controlling runoff and erosion, which also means nitrogen getting into the ponds. So I foresee getting into more strategies to handle those kind of concerns and water restrictions. That’s where I see the future of landscaping going, not only for us, but for the whole region.

Zoe: I see us continuing to run Crossland Landscape the way it has been run for 40 years, but with a whole new spin on things because we’re young, we’re fresh, we are excited, we are educated, we are go-getters, and we’re a team now. When Mark started it was just him, and now there’s three of us. I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity, and I just feel so grateful to have this business given to my brothers and me; there’s nothing better than that.


Renee Clermont at work as a garden coach. Photo courtesy of Ms. Clermont.

The Times asked Renee Clermont, garden coach, to tell us about her business.

So, what is garden coaching?

Clients call for an array of reasons, ranging from identifying plant varieties to seeking help with an overgrown garden that lacks interest and focus. Visits usually last an hour; a walkthrough is done to prioritize needs and define goals, and hopefully, they are left with some insight and knowledge of how to move forward, whether it’s a tailored maintenance booklet that details seasonal garden tasks, or pruning schedules, or just a simple site-inventory booklet outlining plant species in their garden.

I’m very hands-on and visual, always showing up with my truck full of tools, so if need be I can demonstrate a task, such as how to prune roses or hydrangeas or how to flag out an idea for a bed shape.

I think the one bit of information everyone seems to appreciate is what I call “insider information,” which is suited to saving them money, time, and labor. Because I am often in the local nurseries, I can share the comparable prices and where they can find the best varieties of plants to suit their needs.


How’d you get here, and how’d you start this biz?

I started my business 12 years ago with the intent of doing small gardens and containers, and every year the gardens became larger and larger. Three years after that, I ended up putting myself through four years of schooling (trucking back and forth to Boston) to become a certified landscape designer. I was enthralled with all the textures and shapes available using trees and shrubs, intertwined with hardscaping, and figured the garden ties into the whole landscape, so why not design it all!

I often do design consults for Island landscapers, and it just so happened on this particular one, the owner was there and came out and introduced herself. I got to talking about what I do, which prompted her to start asking questions. One thing led to another, and an hour later, I was digging a hole and running a hose to see if her garden was leaching properly. That consult ended with an aha comment from her: “You should advertise this coaching concept,” and with that, a new outlet was born for all this information I had swirling around in my head. It’s definitely challenging, and I in no way claim I know it all.

If I get stumped, I humbly confess, but I always either whip out my iPad or call one of many seasoned horticulturists to get the information.

Renee Clermont, Second Nature Designs, Edgartown



Owner Anne-Marie Eddy and store manager Bill Croke in front of ReFabulous, a refurbished furniture and paint store. Photos by Cathryn McCann

A year ago, Anne-Marie Eddy opened a small store off Beach Road that sells refurbished, reclaimed, and painted furniture, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and other unique items, in what she now calls “the Brooklyn of Martha’s Vineyard.”


So you recently opened up a new shop?

ReFabulous is the main shop, and it’s been open a year. We opened up the annex a few doors down, and we just call it ReFabulous Decor Two. What’s in there is more furniture, and it’s furniture that’s either painted or not painted. We are given a lot of furniture — people drop off furniture for us, or they’ll call us and have us come get furniture that’s inexpensive. The whole idea is to repurpose it and paint it and sell it affordably to people. It also satisfies people’s urges to be a little bit creative. They can paint the pieces themselves, either by coming to a workshop, or I explain it to them when they come in. Or people come in with a pillow that they want to match, they want the coffee table to match the pillow, so we’ll come up with a color and I’ll mix it for them and they can be on their way with instructions.

I’m always available. People call me all the time and say, “OK, I just did this, and it doesn’t look right, what do I do now?” That’s never a problem. If someone’s proud of what they did, they’re going to want to come back and buy more paint and paint everything in their house; it’s kind of addictive.


What’s your background?

My husband and I were living in Boston for a long time; my husband was an attorney and I was in corporate sales, and we decided to start a business on the Island after we got married here. We started Big Sky Tents, so we’ve had that for 17 years now. I helped him with the business for a number of years, and then I just started getting into more creative things. I started making jewelry about seven years ago, and I was selling some in the shops here. Then I discovered this Annie Sloan Chalk Paint about three years ago, and I just started painting everything in my house.


What’s special about the paint?

I think this paint really appeals to women; they can make it look really pretty without a lot of elbow grease and wasting time. Annie Sloan is out of Oxford, England, and she started the business about 30 years ago, and she has over 1,000 distributors and retailers now. We have to go to training for four days in North Carolina because she believes in growing the business organically — she doesn’t sell out of big-box stores. And the application process is pretty tricky and pretty involved; it was a 10-page application, and you had to already have your shop up and running. I honestly never really thought I’d be in the retail world, never really had any aspirations to do that, but when I found the paint, I really wanted to share it with people. I really like that it’s something that needs to be explained a little bit, but it’s not too confusing. It empowers people. They feel really great that they can do something artistic.

Note: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is marketed on the website as a “versatile paint that would work beautifully on furniture without priming or sanding; that would be easy to use and quick to dry; and that could be used for a number of different paint techniques.”


What’s your first year in business been like?

It’s been good. We’ve been able to get different products in that appeal to everyone. We’re also doing the

ReFabulous has a wide selection of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a top seller at the store. Photos by Cathryn McCann
ReFabulous has a wide selection of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a top seller at the store. Photos by Cathryn McCann

Chilmark Flea Market on Saturdays and bringing a lot of items up there. I think that widens my scope with up-Island customers who wouldn’t necessarily come down here. So even though I’m not on Main Street and don’t have a huge visibility, people are finding me by word of mouth or from the flea market, because that’s their area.


So you don’t find that this location is prohibitive at all?

For me I think that I wouldn’t want to have a steady, steady stream of people in and out. As it is, we kind of do; sometimes I might have 100 people a day. But on Main Street, it’s nonstop. And when you have to explain the product to people, the sales process is a little bit longer. So I kind of like being small.


Can you explain the workshops that you hold?

The most popular workshop that I offer on an ongoing basis is the Chalk Paint 101, and that’s where I teach everyone the six different techniques and we work on pieces of wood. Everybody gets to experience the paint, use the wax, and distress things so that their comfort level is there when they go to paint their first piece. And then we work on something at the end, either a frame or a wooden buoy or a plaque, something that they can take home. I keep it affordable — it’s $60, and usually 2½ to 3 hours long. In the winter, we had a lot of workshops at night, so we’d have ladies’ night, with cocktails and appetizers. It was a fun activity during the dismal winter for a lot of people. Then I have Chalk Paint 102, which is the second level, and that’s a little bit more advanced. That works on gilding and stenciling and decoupage — all on furniture. And then I do private workshops for people too.


What are your hopes for the future of this place?

I would love people to know about this location down here — we’re calling it “the shops at Beach Street Extension.” And we’re calling ourselves “the Brooklyn of Martha’s Vineyard,” because a lot of the stores sell stuff that is all handmade. And this building, historically, has had a lot of workshop-type businesses. The owner — when I went to lease here — that’s what he said to me. He said, “You know I really like to support artists.” I wasn’t even going to open a place. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I can’t afford that.” Until I found this. I thought, “Well, it’s super small, but I’m excited. I can do it.” Upstairs, there are all these little offices where there are some artists — jewelry makers, painters, people who have little workshops.

I just thought it was such a cute, cool little community down here.

Anne-Marie Eddy, at ReFabulous, 13 Beach Road Extension, Vineyard Haven. (508) 560-0960,

Looking at the Vineyard through rose-colored glasses.

Sarah Aliberti, left, and Sarah McDonnell of Summer Shades in Edgartown. Photo by Michael Cummo

Andrew Aliberti opened Summer Shades in 1985, and moved to the current location at 36 Main Street in Edgartown two years later. With the help of his wife, Sarah, and their general manager Sarah McDonnell, the shop has been selling high-end sunglasses to Vineyarders for 30 years.


So what brought you to the Island?

AA: Well, I came here and opened this when I was in college. In my second year in college, I came here just to get a challenge in life, so I borrowed some money and opened the store. That’s what brought me here — this store, or the idea of this store.


Why the Island?

AA: I had come here a couple times with some friends, and I liked it. It was between here and Maine, and the guy that loaned me the money said he would only do it if I opened here.


And why sunglasses?

AA: I was in college for English, you know English major. It was Suffolk, right in the city, so I worked a couple jobs while I was doing that. One was taking passport photos. The man who hired me there was the one who loaned me the money to open this. My other job was selling cheap sunglasses off a pushcart. I enjoyed it, I liked the clientele — young, fun — it seemed to be something I could see myself doing and enjoying. It’s a great product. It’s better than handbags, probably.


How did you two end up getting involved?

SA: I came here for the summer. I had retail and restaurant background, that was 1991, and I had a restaurant job, and I wasn’t happy. So I asked for a job here, and I had fun. I worked for him and his buddy; it was just the two of them, basically. We just did really well in the store together.

AA: Good chemistry. She was a keeper.

SA: So I worked that first summer, and we had a great summer, right?

AA: And we started dating, and got married, but whatever.

SA: So we had a great summer but I moved back to New York, then I came back and continued to work for him. We were practically engaged the next year, so I continued to work for him ever since.


And your story?

SM: I came to the Island because of this job. I had worked in a different part of Andrew’s business. He had outlet stores. I was hired to run his outlet store.

AA: It was a premium outlet, and Sarah was hired to manage that. And then she was hired as general manager here, like three months later.

SM: So that’s what made me move here. When Sarah became pregnant with their oldest child, I started running the store here in Edgartown.


So what’s it like running a business all together?

AA: It’s great; we’re like a family.


Well, you two are.

AA: Yeah, but I think all of us are. I’m upstairs most of the time now, but I listen to what’s going on. I think Sarah M. represents the best of what we could hope for — she’s great with customers. And with Sarah M., it’s Sarah and Sarah, so people get really confused.

SA: People often think that I was the one that helped them when I know I wasn’t.

SM: People are like “Either Sarah!” They know they are going to get great service.

SA: And look their best.


What has changed about this store over the years?

AA: Probably what has changed the most is that in 1985 sunglasses shops were really new. I think the first one was 10 years old, and there weren’t many in New England. But now they’re everywhere. I think the industry has become much more mainstream. As far as our store, in the beginning I didn’t really carry fashion sunglasses. I carried sport; all I knew was sports. I think we’ve expanded on fashion, but Sarah and Sarah keep my hands off the fashion lines.

SA: I don’t know …

AA: Other than that I think the general idea of sunglasses is that they’re an essential thing to spend money on. The first few years I did this with a buddy of mine, people would stop and say, “A sunglasses shop? They won’t be back.” They probably had a good point. But now there’s so many more brands. Back in the ’80s we had like three showcases of glasses, and one of them was Vuarnet.

SA: It was huge in the ’80s.

AA: They were really dark yellow lenses.

SM: Somebody had them on yesterday!

AA: Oh my God. Now they’re cool.


What do you do to compete now that the market is more saturated?

AA: Selection and service is huge. Go to most sunglasses shops. The selection isn’t great, and definitely the service isn’t what it could be. We also have a lot of customers for whom a part of their summer will be to come in here. We’re fortunate to be on the Vineyard.

SM: They tell me they’re not going to shop anywhere else. And they ask us for what we think would look good on them and what we like.

AA: I think when you go to a place that you love, even if it’s just for one or two weeks, it’s nice to bring something back. Why buy a pair of sunglasses up the road at the mall, when every time you put them on you can say, “Oh, I got these in Edgartown!” Don’t you think?


What do people not know about sunglasses?

AA: I’ve heard people come in and say, “I’ve got these polarized glasses,” and they’re not polarized. There’s so many different lenses, and there’s frame materials, and different lenses are better for different activities. So if someone bought a pair somewhere else, like at a clothing store because it was convenient, then they find out there’s a better selection, and we know what we’re talking about, and we can help them find what they’re looking for. I think that’s the beauty of the specialized shop: If it’s all you’re selling, you tend to know a lot more. And Sarah has the task of training six different people every year as quickly as humanly possible.

SM: Yeah, it’s a short window.

AA: I think when you come in here, you’re definitely going to get the right information. You’re not going to be sold something because it’s the most expensive, you’re going to be sold something that’s right for what you’re looking for. We try to set up a situation that’s goal-oriented, and listen to what the customer is saying. We don’t say, “Take this Maui Jim” if they don’t need a Maui Jim.


Do you have any good stories? A favorite moment?

AA: I don’t think there’s these big stories as much as when you sell someone the right pair, they’re psyched about it. They approach you in the street and say, “These were the best things you ever sold me!”

SA: I’ll never forget when some little kid said, “There’s the sunglass lady!” It was the first time I’ve ever been called the sunglass lady.

Still just a fishmonger’s shop

The picture you wanted with the Larsen family - Beth Larsen, Louie Larsen, Travis Larsen (son) and Violette Larsen (4 years old) — Photo by Larisa Stinga

The Net Result fish market at the Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven celebrated its 30th birthday last week. It’s a popular destination for fresh fish, sushi, and takeout meals under patio umbrellas.

Co-owner with his wife Beth, Louis Larsen Jr. grew up fishing on his dad’s boat out of Menemsha and working in his dad’s Menemsha shop, Larsen’s Fish Market, a shop his sisters, Betsy Larsen and Kristine Scheffer, still run. Louie’s brother Dan owns Edgartown Seafood. Louie even ran the Menemsha shop for a few summers in the early 1970s.

Louie and his grade school friend Beth Renear, who grew up in Vineyard Haven, married after their college years, and opened the Net Result in 1985 at the business’s present location on Beach Road. After 30 years, they still work side by side, assisted by Jeffrey Maida, who Louie says has been both his left- and right-hand man for 29 of those 30 years.

What began as a relatively modest fish shop of about 500 square feet is now closer to 2,000 square feet, and employs 30 people in the summer. The Net Result is a year-round business, except for about a month mid-winter when they give the place a good, thorough cleaning. Louie, who still refers to himself as “just a fishmonger,” has expanded the business to one that sells not only fresh fish and lobster to a large walk-in clientele, but supplies seafood to many Island restaurants, and has a takeout menu that includes lobster, fish and crab cake sandwiches, chowder, salads, appetizers, food plates, hamburgers, and fresh made-to-order sushi.

The Net Result email provides daily updates about the daily special, and the weekly winner of the Net Result bumper sticker contest and a two-pound lobster prize.

The Net Result provides summer employment for a sizable group of college-aged kids including, over the years, the Larsens’ own three sons. Their son Andrew, 25, now works in the family business full-time.

“I grew up working with my father,” Louie told The Times last year. “It was great. Working with my son is awesome. I’m glad he’s here. You feel like you’re teaching somebody. He definitely has more patience than I do. When it’s your own child, you’re proud that he takes an interest in your job.”

To join the thousand or so who are already on The Net Result email list, or to order online for off-Island orders, go to, or call 508-693-6071.

A lean, green decade.

The Nelson Mechanical team, from left: Matt Rivers, Brian Nelson, Michael Oliveria, Megan Lizotte, David Sprague, Paul Vertefeuille, and Jay Bolduc. Not pictured: Colin Ouderkirk. Photo courtesy of Megan Lizotte

Ten years ago, after working for conventional plumbers and recognizing a need for a “green” mechanical contractor who could meet the energy efficiency and home-comfort needs of the Vineyard, Brian Nelson and David Sprague teamed up as Nelson Mechanical Design (NMD). They design and install just about anything to do with alternative heating and air conditioning systems, as well as traditional plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. They call themselves “green” mechanical contractors. Their work includes water treatment, geothermal systems, heat pump systems, fossil fuel systems, air conditioning, solar hot thermal, plumbing, well water drilling, water treatment, ventilation, and Internet-accessible control systems.

Longtime business manager Megan Lizotte of Edgartown said about 60 percent of their work is with sustainable “green systems” for both residential and commercial buildings.

Master plumber Brian Nelson has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master sheet-metal license, and is licensed by the EPA to handle refrigerants. He has lived on the Vineyard for 20 years, and resides in Vineyard Haven with his wife, five children, and three dogs. In the summer he can be found around the Island playing saxophone with his band Jelly Roll Horns.

David Sprague, an Island resident for about 15 years, is also a master plumber and master sheet-metal license holder, as well as an accredited geothermal installer, and a geothermal pipe fusion welder. He resides in West Tisbury with his four children, and is an avid fisherman.

Their residential work includes the design and installation of mechanical systems for the Vineyard’s first two LEED homes. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program.

Several of their projects have won national awards: They were awarded first prize in “Most Innovative Green Design” and second prize in “Best Residential Green Design” in the 2009 nationwide Green Mechanical Awards. Their solar hot water systems include the Island’s largest residential solar hot water system, utilizing 20 panels, and the Island’s first commercial solar hot water installation, at the Edgartown restaurant Atria.

In the commercial world, NMD has helped business owners save tens of thousands of dollars in reduced fuel use through energy efficiency projects, according to their website. They designed and installed the extensive green geothermal heat exchanger system at the Mansion House hotel in Vineyard Haven that makes it one of the “greenest” hotels in the Northeast.

For more information call 508-696-3120.