Women in Business

Nineteen years ago, Sveta Yakubovich came to Wichita with her husband and 6-month-old son.

Sveta was 21 and barely knew English. She planned to become a physical education teacher.

“I just wanted a better life for my kids, a better future,” Yakubovich says.

She began giving massages, a staple for athletes in her native Russia, for what was supposed to be a side job. To interact with her clients, she would have phrases written out in English on cards, which she would practice over and over.

Apparently, It was endearing to her clients — as was Yakubovich’s inquisitive and high-­energy personality. She soon was making more money at massage therapy than she could as a teacher.

In 2000, she opened Sveta’s Skin & Body Therapy at Bradley Fair. Her company now has 23 employees.

No doubt, Yakubovich benefited from having a high-­‐profile clientele base.

Emprise Bank’s Mike Michaelis and real estate developer George Laham are part of it.

“I met incredible people,” she says. “I’m so glad I came to Wichita. People here are so nice and excited.”

Yakubovich developed a business philosophy that she believes sets her apart — it’s about much more than just a massage.

“It’s not the technique that will bring them back. It’s the front desk. It’s cleanliness. It’s efficiency. … In Wichita, lots of people are businesspeople, doctors, business owners. We really treat them like family. We’re clean and professional. We’re kind of big enough and small enough that we can still be intimate.”

Fellow WIB honoree Katie Lynn, executive director of Arts Partners and a long time client, says Yakubovich always is learning.

“She’s taken advantage of the opportunity of learning from some of her clientele, which is great,” Lynn says. “She’s somebody I really admire for how she’s been able to succeed.”

JoVetta Wescott, executive director of the Kansas Parish Nurse Ministry Inc., remembers the first time Yakubovich told her about her plans to start her own business.

“She has big visions of where she wants to go, and it’s not to keep up with anybody else. It’s what she wants to do business-­‐wise,” Wescott says.

Wichita Business Journal

Women in Business Nominees

In September, the Wichita Business Journal will recognize outstanding women in the Wichita area for their career accomplishments and contributions to the success of other women. Congratulations to this year’s honorees:

  • Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books and Cafe.
  • Tami Bradley, Bothner and Bradley.
  • Linda Brantner, Delta Dental of Kansas.
  • Karen Cox, ProviDrs Care.
  • Doris Harms, Electromech Technologies.
  • Pat Jones, Dress for Success.
  • Dixie Larson, Kennedy and Coe LLC.
  • Katie Lynn, Arts Partners.
  • Samantha Marnick, Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
  • Jill Miller, Jill D. Miller Creative Solutions.
  • Linda Parks, Hite, Fanning and Honeyman LLP.
  • Rachael Pirner, Triplett Woolf and Garretson LLC.
  • Tarcisia Roths, Newman University.
  • Susette Schwartz, Hunter Health Clinic.
  • Jackie Vietti, Butler Community College.
  • Debbie Winter, Bombardier Learjet.
  • Judy Worrell, Berry Cos. Inc.
  • Sveta Yakobovich, Sveta’s Skin and Body Therapy.
  • Linda Weir­‐Enegren, LS Industries.
  • Lori Davis, Grant Thornton LLP.

Wichita Business Journal

Sveta’s Body Therapy a Dream Come True For Russian Transplant Sveta Yakubovich

A Russian masseur who came to Wichita with only $500 in her pocket has built an elite clientele among local business leaders including developer George Laham and banker Michael Michaelis.

Only seven years after immigrating to the United States from Russia, 29-­year­old Sveta Yakubovich is opening Sveta’s Body Therapy, offering therapeutic massage and acupuncture at 2141 N. Bradley Fair Parkway in Bradley Fair.

It’s a proud moment for a woman who has developed into one of the best-­‐ connected women in Wichita -­ catering to a high­‐profile client list that includes doctors, bank presidents, developers, stockbrokers and other high‐level professionals.

Many visit as often as once a week to have their kinks, cramps and knots worked out by Yakubovich’s powerful hands.

Getting hooked

On a Sunday morning Yakubovich is confirming an afternoon appointment with developer George Laham while Emprise Bank chairman Michael Michaelis waits in a chair nearby. A bundle of energy, Yakubovich greets the friends who have stopped in to wish her well at her new location while answering the ringing phone in her distinct Russian accent.

Michaelis, who says he first met Yakubovich when she was offering chair massages at Green Acres health food store several years ago, says he had never had a massage -­ and never thought he would.

But as his wife was shopping, Michaelis decided to give Yakubovich’s chair massage a try.

“I play squash at the Wichita Racquet Club, and soon Sveta convinced me to try a (full) massage,” says Michaelis, who now has a weekly appointment with Yakubovich. “I was hooked.”

Trained in Russia

The opening of her business is a dream­‐come­‐true for Yakubovich, who came to Wichita in 1993 with her mother, her husband, Simon (a massage therapist at the Wichita Country Club), her then‐infant son, Misha, and only $500 in her pocket.

Trained in massage and as a physical education teacher in Gorky, Russia, Yakubovich was earning the American equivalent of about two dollars a month and was determined to offer her family a better way of life in the United States.

“I knew that in Russia to make money you either had to be a genius or do something illegal,” says Yakubovich. “In America, you can have anything you want. There is more opportunity here.”

Speaking no English and unsure of what direction to take, Yakubovich soon earned her massage therapy certifications and began working at Mae-­ssage, a salon at the Wichita Racquet Club in February 1994, where she worked for six years. Hired by Mae-­ssage owner Rick Mae, Yakubovich says he watched her grow from a “little Russian girl” into a woman now ready to launch her own business.

“I am grateful to Rick for giving me the opportunity to start my career here, and to meet the people who have become my clients and friends,” says Yakubovich.

George Laham has been a client and friend of Yakubovich for about five years, and says he has known for some time her interest in opening her own salon. Her level of service, professionalism and tremendous client base were right for Bradley Fair, he says. “Sveta is an excellent massage therapist. She’s energetic, accommodating, and has a tremendous work ethic,” says Laham. “In my business of developing buildings for new businesses, it’s most exciting and rewarding when you are involved with someone like Sveta, considering her background, drive to succeed and love for capitalism.”

American success story

Dr. Ken Jansson, an orthopedic surgeon with Advanced Orthopedic Associates and medical director for Via Christi’s Sports Medicine services, remembers the first day he met Yakubovich.

“The first time I saw her she didn’t even speak English,” says Jansson. “She is the American success story. She has done it the old-­fashioned way, with a lot of hard work and good effort.”

Although as a doctor Jansson doesn’t generally make referrals for massage services, he says it is good for providing stress relief and general wellness.

“I think people with milder problems, general aches and pains, and flexibility problems can do well with massage,” says Jansson.

Yakubovich says she loves her work because she is able to bring relief to overstressed bodies. Massage services offered include Swedish; back, shoulder and neck; deep tissue massage; reflexology; body dynamics and pregnancy, as well as acupuncture and acupressure.

Massage sessions generally are one hour, but will range from 15 minutes for a chair massage to 90 minutes for a thorough spa massage. The facility is also equipped with a shower and dry sauna. Yakubovich’s staff of five therapists includes Dr. Allen Fitzner, an acupuncturist who has practiced for more than 31 years.

Yakubovich is also a student at the Kansas School of Chinese Medicine, where she is studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Once a competitive swimmer in Russia, she believes in natural remedies to heal the body’s ailments and takes no medications. Yakubovich even foregoes anesthetics at the dentist’s office, and has had a root canal without benefit of pain blockers.

“There are some problems you cannot treat with massage, but you can treat with herbs and acupuncture,” says Yakubovich.


Wichita Business Journal

Sveta’s Body Therapy Scheduled to Open in Bradley Fair

Shopping center expansion now 50 percent leased

Pier 1 Imports, an international retailer offering distinct, casual home furnishings from more than 50 countries, will open a third Wichita location in the spring of 2001 in the Bradley Fair shopping center at 21st Street and Rock Road.

The 10,000­‐square‐foot store will be located next to the Bed Bath & Beyond in the new Bradley Fair South Parkway expansion, said Melissa Cohlmia, spokeswoman for Laham Development Co., the developer of Bradley Fair.

The announcement of Pier 1 as a new tenant brings the 85,000‐square­‐foot South Parkway expansion to more than 50 percent leased.

“Pier 1 will complement the lifestyle center’s already dynamic mix and enhance Bradley Fair as a regional destination,” said Cohlmia. “We give careful consideration to the centers offerings and ambiance. From gifts and apparel to home furnishings, personal products and a diversity of food and dining concepts, Bradley Fair is a complete shopping experience that is relaxed and appealing.”


$1.1 billion in sales

Pier 1, an international retailer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, has more than 800 stores. The publicly owned company had more than $1.1 billion in sales in 1999. According to the company, the typical Pier 1 customer is a successful, educated, working woman between the ages of 18 and 49.

Opening at the center in early October will be Sveta’s Body Therapy. Owned by Sveta Yakubovich, the shop will be located just south of 21st Street facing Bradley Fair Parkway.

Sveta’s Body Therapy will offer therapeutic massage, acupuncture, facials and a sauna. Services will be available by appointment from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.


Bradley Fair Shopping Center

Address: 21st Street and Rock Road. Wichita, Kan. 67226. Developer: Laham Development Co.

Phone: (316) 262‐6400