COURTNEY MERZ SAULNIER ’95 & ASHLEY MERZ MARCHAND ’97
In our years since graduating from WMS we continued our education together at Loomis Chaffee. Our bond as sisters grew with Courtney helping Ashley with living away from home as a prefect her freshman year. In college we found our identities away from being ‘The Merz Girls’ at separate colleges where Courtney studied at Hobart and William Smith College and Ashley attended Union College. Upon graduating Courtney traveled to Hawaii for two years experiencing the slower paced island lifestyle.
When Ashley graduated from Union College we knew we wanted to go into business together but were left wondering what the best route to take was. We discovered a research facility in Boston where through multiple tests and questions they provide guidance on a person’s strengths in reference to what careers they would excel at as well as enjoy. The results listed Interior Design as the top career for Courtney and second for Ashley behind Civil Engineering.
With these results we were even more determined and encouraged that a business together would work. Over the next year we apprenticed with a designer in Lakeville, CT who was looking to sell her business. The next 3 years were a whirlwind of learning, buying the business, buying our building, Courtney getting married, having her first child, Ashley getting married, Courtney having her second child, and finally Ashley having her first child. Things have no sign of slowing down. With three children between us and a thriving business we always looking for ways to grow as designers and provide our clients with the best service possible.
When we took over the business in 2006 it already had an extensive library of fabrics, trim, and wallpaper. In the last 5 years that library has grown and we have expanded to use the entire 10,000 sq. ft. building where we are located in Lakeville, CT. We also now have a large retail space where we sell everything from furniture to plates to bedding. As our family has grown we discovered the need for a place to buy the type of toys we grew up with. Ones that could be handed down rather than the throw away toys we were finding. To answer this need we now have a toy section of our business ‘Kidaroos’.
We can confidently say that we wouldn’t be the business women or designers we are today if it wasn’t for WMS. There are the parts that are as mundane as knowing how to budget our time and having the discipline to get our ‘assignments’ done without a ‘teacher/boss’ overseeing our progress. Then there are the elements of WMS that gave us the confidence we have to take creative risks. We have memories of teachers encouraging us to explore our interests. That was one of the greatest tools WMS gave us because we now have the ability to follow through on any endevours we wish.
As we take notice of the things we are grateful for in our lives one at the top of our list is that our lives have circled back to WMS. Courtney’s daughter, Callie, is starting her third year at WMS and her son, Rad, is starting his first year in the fall. Their cousin, Tucker, will hopefully be following in their footsteps in the fall of 2012. We feel so lucky that our children can walk down the halls of WMS, and while they are different hallways, they are experiencing the same joys and getting all the benefits we did from our time there.