Tosoni MD - Caroline Tosoni
You started your medical career as a General Practitioner and transitioned into Cosmetic Medicine. What is it that motivated you to start in the cosmetic world?
Prior to Medicine, I worked in research as part of my Bachelor in Psychology and Masters in Neuropsychology and was required to perform microsurgeries on laboratory rats. I enjoyed the surgery and hands on work. During my medical training, I did procedures as often as I could. Although I enjoyed Family Medicine, I soon realized that I missed working with my hands and doing procedures and looked for opportunity to do so. There was a need for physicians offering Sclerotherapy, the treatment of leg veins, in Ottawa and so in 2000, I went to Houston, Texas and trained in Sclerotherapy. The same year Botox Cosmetics were approved. Allergan, the maker of Botox was looking for physicians to incorporate Botox Cosmetic treatments in their clinics. They knocked at my door. I had been identified as a cosmetic physician because I was offering vein treatments. The landscape of Cosmetic Medicine was very different in those days. I gave it a try. It was a very positive experience and soon patients requested I offered more cosmetic services. I gradually integrated medical grade skin care, chemical peels, Microdermabrasion, dermal fillers and purchased my very first IPL/Laser machine. This was the beginning of what turned out to be the most amazing career I could hope for.
Back in 2002, you and your husband started the first Medical Spa in Eastern Ontario, owned and operated by a physician on site full-time. Have you always aimed to be ahead of the curve?
I’m not sure I would qualify myself to be ahead of the curve but I certainly am 100% committed to being the best at what I do. I have an analytical and entrepreneurial mind. Back in 2000 there were just a handful of physicians offering these services. There were no big franchises or large centres grouping several medical cosmetic and aesthetic services in Ottawa. My husband and I recognized a need for this. We built a high end, boutique style medical spa where we offered all my Cosmetic Dermatology services as well as all aesthetic services under one roof. We started with 3 employees and grew to 35 in 10 years. At the time there were no facilities with a full-time by a physician on site. Creating and building that medical spa was a big success in our professional lives. After 10 years and growing to 35 employees I wanted to focus on my patients and what I really loved doing. So we decided to sell the business and move downtown to my new location in the Byward Market where I started TosoniMD with 2 employees. It’s the best professional decision I have ever made. The past 7 years have been a turning point in my career. I can now focus solely on what I love to do. It’s a great feeling!
You have a big family. How do you balance that with running a business and time for your patients?
It’s not easy. I don’t think many people understand how much work beyond the 9-5 goes into making sure that a business runs smoothly. My husband always says to our kids that I have an unparalleled work ethic. I think I am just a really hard worker and I have the ability to prioritize what needs to be done at any one time. I have a a fantastic support system with my husband and my staff. Without them I would not be able to find balance in my life. I am 100% focused on whatever I am doing. When I am with my patients, the second I close the door to that room , I am focused on them and the treatment I am providing. When I am with at home or with my family, I do the same. I am very lucky because I go to work every day and do a job I absolutely love. Despite this my husband and my four children remain the center of my universe. I actually have 2 of my daughters working with me at the moment which is amazingly positive as well.
Keeping your business a certain size to remain present with patients is an important part of Tosoni MD. How would you describe your relationships with your patients?
I would like to believe it is an honest and measured relationship based on trust. I am not afraid to be engaged with my patients, talk about their personal life, talk about their trips or my trips, their kids or my kids, issues with their aging parents or mine. Many of my patients have been coming to see me for 10-15 years. I see my role as someone who is there to inform, guide and educate. I am there to listen, advise and to help them ultimately look their best version of themselves.
You mentioned that your husband is an amazing cook. Do you have a favourite dish that he makes?
My husband is an amazing cook and probably missed a career as a chef. He spoils us with elaborate meals almost every night. It’s a good thing because, I, on the other hand, am a ‘’one pot dish’’ kind of cook and have what my kids call ‘’kitchen ADD’’. When it comes to cooking, I have no ability to focus on the task. But to get back to my favourite dish that he makes, If I have to pick one, it would have to be his Beef Wellington.
What was your favourite family vacation?
One trip that sticks out the most in my mind was our first trip to Europe as a family called Alpine Adventure. We went to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. We travelled with a company called Tauck and the whole experience was simply phenomenal. The kids were all at a perfect age (22, 19, 18 and 11). We got to experience so much as a family. We hiked in the Swiss Alps, visited multiple castles, drank water from a glacier, rock climbed, zip-lined, white water rafting in Austria, and enjoyed a day at the biggest adult water park in Europe called Area 47 and so much more. To this day, they still tell us it was their favourite trip.
The Byward Market is a busy place with so many great spots to grab lunch, a snack or just a coffee. Do you have a favourite spot in the area?
I have many but Planet Coffee, Khao Thai Restaurant on Murray and The French Baker are usually my 3 go to places to grab lunch.
How has Ottawa been supportive to you as a business owner?
The Ottawa community has been extremely supportive of my business. Ottawa is where my career started and flourished. 20 years ago I started in the East-end and did well but since moving to the ByWard Market, which is a more central location, I have been exposed to more of Ottawa’s communities. I believe this has significantly helped grow my business over the years. I’m very thankful for the tremendous support over the years. I vividly remember the first week I opened TosoniMD, I had a visit from someone from The Byward Market Office officially welcoming me into the neighbourhood and bringing me a welcome basket.
What is important about local business to you?
The key to local business success is benefiting from a network of like-minded entrepreneurs.
We are all striving to provide personal and customized services to clients who have a multitude of choices available to them and many of whom are large corporations. I have developed several relationships and friendships with local business owners over the past 7 years since I first established my clinic in the ByWard Market. I regularly refer clients to them and they do the same with their clients. I think it is extremely important to support each other. Ottawa is a small community and the Byward Market an even smaller one.