For decades, Swezey’s Jewelers was a favorite downtown destination for Christmas shoppers.
They didn’t all buy diamonds or watches. But everyone loved the winter scene lovingly created in the large storefront window, complete with an always-chugging model rail train.
Swezey’s is now Jack Wills. Model trains are out; “Mortal Kombat” is in.
But this year, strollers enjoyed an intriguing — if smaller — winter scene, on the same side of Main Street. Vita Design Group‘s display included an ice rink, skaters, benches, trees, and 3D-printed examples of a few Vita-designed houses.
A view from inside of Vita Design Group’s winter scene.
The display was the work of Gaelle Dudley. You may not have heard her name. But you’ve seen her creations all around town.
Gaelle’s business is GLDesign06880. A home and business interior and exterior home design firm, it — that is, she — is responsible for the planters and outside “look” of popular spots like Granola Bar, She la la, Joyride and Fitness Factory.
Gaelle is exactly what you think of when you hear her tagline: “live beautifully.” Young, lovely and energetic, she comes by her design chops naturally.
Gaelle Dudley (Photo/Irene Penny)
A dual citizen who was born and raised in Paris, Gaelle embodies sophistication, elegance and good taste.
But her career path was not always smooth. And “the good life” has not always been great.
After majoring in business at Skidmore College, and joining a startup during the first internet boom, Gaelle entered the corporate marketing world. She worked for KPMG and Starwood Hotels, and had amazing experiences.
But last year, she was diagnosed with cancer. Sitting at her desk after leaving Sloane-Kettering one day, she decided to make a life change.
“I’d always dabbled in design,” Gaelle says. “My mother was a sculptor. I wanted to apply my talents to ‘the real world,’ not the 0.5% of the world I was seeing. I wanted to help people express themselves through their homes and gardens.”
She began offering freebies — planters and containers — to friends. Quickly, the word spread: Gaelle was good!
A window box by Gaelle.
She’s also resourceful. She sources nurseries and stores from Port Chester to Bridgeport. She does not mark up, or make a profit on, materials.
What she does do is add personality and color to homes and businesses. She loves enhancing curb appeal.
Indoors, for example, Gaelle transformed a drab attic into a beautiful playroom. She created a reading nook, a boys’ nook and a girls’ nook, and painted the ceiling.
“I bargain hunted, packed up my car, went over and made it look like a million bucks,” she says.
One of Gaelle’s interiors.
Outdoors, she swaps out plants every season. “Main Street is definitely improving,” she notes, looking at other store entryways. “But I still see a lot of dead planters. It needs more greenery.”
Gaelle plants as she goes. “I don’t do sketches,” she laughs. “I tell my clients, “let me be creative. Trust me.'”
After a career in marketing, Gaelle loves working with her hands.
“This brings me such happiness,” she says.
“And plants don’t talk back.”