The Work We Do: Debbie Gildersleeve, Renee’s

I’m Debbie Gildersleeve and I am the owner and head designer at Renee’s in Mattituck. We are a wonderful lifestyle store on eastern Long Island on the North Fork.

Well, my day starts before I even get here. I try to look through my emails, get back to my clients.

I do a lot over the phone, believe it or not. Once I get rolling with a client, I will text them pictures of things. Once I get here, I try to meet with my assistant designers and get an update on how they’re doing with each of their clients. I just try and do a once-over of the store and make sure everything is perfect because I’m a perfectionist, checking every pillow, every table that everything is on it correctly.

And then from there on, that’s the thing about this business. Anything goes. I could be meeting with a vendor to buy a new line. I could be fielding a customer service issue. I’m meeting with clients in the store. I also do a lot of consults outside the store, so a lot of time’s on the road.

The store was established, believe it or not, 40 years ago. We moved out from Huntington. This was our summer house and my dad wanted to keep my mom busy so he had her open this little boutique for women’s clothing.

We went to all the trade shows and we bought some frame prints and furniture to display our jewelry in the store. And people started to say, can I get that picture and what about that piece of furniture. It was almost like we got involved in the furniture business by accident. It’s gotten to the point over the last five or six years that the furniture is 99 percent of our business.

My favorite part is dealing with clients in general. I have a very good clientele. I become very good friends with my clients because it’s very personal. I have a key to their house and get to know them. I love the buying, too, and I love putting a room together. I genuinely love the work itself, the creative part.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. Read it first and see more photos every Monday on Instagram @thesuffolktimes and watch the video on