Meet Merry Thornton, the mom of two behind Element Medical Aesthetics in New Canaan. After living in New York City for many years, she and her husband moved to Katonah in 2009 for the “small-town ambience.” In October 2022 she opened Element, which is a “medspa specializing in procedures to make patients feel better inside and out.” Learn more about Merry, her path to entrepreneurship and her go-to list for restaurants, shops and more in New Canaan, Katonah and nearby!
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have 2 children, Grace who is 4, and James who is 2. I feel very lucky to have them! (I did IVF with both children and am an advocate for fertility struggles. I am an open book if you ever want me to talk about this.)
What brought you and your family to town?
My family and I have lived in Katonah since 2009. My husband and I had been living in NYC for several years before having kids and we wanted more space, nature, and quiet, while still being near the city. When we first moved, we were one of the youngest couples in the neighborhood, but now, the area is filled with parents with young children, partially due to the migration out of the city when the pandemic started. We love our community and look forward to raising our children here.
What’s your favorite aspect about being part of the community?
Aside from Katonah being a beautiful place, I like the small-town ambience. People care about being good neighbors, and it is a down-to-earth and inclusive community. While I did not grow up in Katonah, I have never felt like an outsider.
What’s your favorite family activity to do in the area?
We love a good trip to King Kone, a hike in the Grierson Preserve, and hanging out at our house where we have cats, dogs, and chickens. We always take advantage of seasonal activities like the tree lighting and the Halloween parade.
Tell us about Element Medical Aesthetics and when you decided to launch.
Element Medical Aesthetics is a medspa specializing in procedures to make patients feel better inside and out. We offer wrinkle reducers, filler, lasers, chemical peels, and hair restoration. We pride ourselves on achieving beautiful and natural-looking results. I started thinking about launching in summer 2021. I signed my lease in October, began construction, and opened in March 2022. When I was figuring out where to open my business, I considered Katonah, Ridgefield, and New Canaan, but ultimately decided on New Canaan due to its size, walkability and vibrancy. Maybe in the future there will be an Element Katonah!
Can you please tell us a bit about your path to entrepreneurship?
I worked in financial services for several years before going to school to become a physician assistant. I liked the idea of combining my business background with my experience in medicine. While I am grateful for the experience, I gained working experience at dermatology practices prior to starting Element, I always had a desire to have something of my own.
You earned your master’s degree at Weill Cornell, then worked in medical and cosmetic dermatology. When did you develop your passion for skincare?
I have always had a genuine interest in skincare. I am very lucky to “work” in a field that doesn’t feel like work to me. When I was in PA school, I did a rotation in dermatology and knew at that point that I wanted to work in dermatology, as I enjoyed the procedural and visual aspects of the field. I like being able to enhance my patients’ confidence with the procedures that I perform. Skincare is a time investment, but the results will pay off if you stick with it! Another fun aspect of skincare is the new technologies that are constantly coming out. It is impossible to be bored.
What does your family think of your venture?
My family is very supportive. My husband’s encouragement was instrumental; he gave me the push I needed to open my own practice. My kids love visiting the practice. James likes to run up and down the hall and Grace likes the electronic exam chair. When I get home from work, Grace will sometimes say “Mom, how were the patients today?” It is darling.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
Appreciate the moment. Be present. They are babies for such a short time, so we have to cherish each phase, even if we are feeling annoyed or overwhelmed at times. I am able to make my own schedule, so I make sure to carve out time for the family.
Do you have any advice for other moms considering entrepreneurship?
Follow your dreams but make sure you have good support. Starting a business takes a lot of time and pulls you in many directions, not too different from having another baby! My husband and au pair make it possible for me to do this.
How do you unwind when you need some “me time?”
I take a bath! I also love going for a walk, preferably in a wooded area. I am also addicted to the NYT Spelling Bee!
We love supporting local businesses. Favorite places in town or nearby to…
Have dinner with/without kids: With kids: Bacio; Without Kids: Farmer & the Fish
Grab a drink with friends: Spiga or Uncorked in New Canaan, The Inn at Pound Ridge, The Whitlock in Katonah
Have a date night: On a summer night, we love catching an outdoor performance at Caramoor.
Spend time together as a family indoors/outdoors: Our home! Also going to Muscoot Farm and checking out a nearby fair.
Shop for yourself/shop for your kids: For the kids: James and G. Willikers in Katonah, The Toy Chest in New Canaan; for me: Catherine H in Katonah, Togs in New Canaan
Spa/salon (or anywhere you go to treat yourself): Calie Crolla for facials (New Canaan); Satori for massage (Katonah)
Grab coffee: Greenology in New Canaan or The Katonah Reading Room
To learn more, follow Element on Instagram @element.ct