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