Lani Hansen/Senior Reporter
NEW YORK – In the midst of many buildings, noisy streets of people going amongst their daily lives, vehicles honking at each other on a day-to-day basis down the Big Apple’s most famous street “Fifth Avenue” is where the five-story unique J. Crew shop stands.
Being a New Yorker has been one of Muscogee (Creek) citizen Tiffany Cummings goals and has accomplished it with her new job as J. Crew’s visual merchandiser.
Cummings is the daughter of Tommy Cummings (Mvskoke/Menominee/Potawatomi) of Mansfield, Texas and Ramona Cummings (Choctaw) of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Her paternal grandparents were the late Thomas and Mildred Cummings of Hanna. Her maternal grandparents were the late Leroy and Stella Anderson of Talihina.
Cummings’s father previously served as Communications Director for Muscogee Nation before becoming a journalist for different companies.
“He was my inspiration to get out of Oklahoma and pursue my dreams,” Cummings said. “My mom has been a rock my entire life, she’s been the strongest person I know. She recently defeated cancer for the second time and she’s still going strong. She’s probably someone I look up to after everything I’ve been through in my life.”
Her journey to becoming a visual merchandiser began in college when she was manager for Gap. Cummings was going to school for art history at the time, but when she was working at Gap she realized she was really good at standardizing clothes. She was only an associate for a month and a half before they made her manager.
“I was a branding experienced manager at Gap for seven years,” she said. “I’ve merchandised a $15 million Gap store, and then I decided I wanted to take a break from retail. I ran an art gallery in Tulsa at Brookside for about a year, and worked at the Philbrook Museum as an docent which is to teach people how to give tours.”
Later on, an opportunity in Austin, TX arose for Cummings from her friend Elizabeth who was one of her assistants at Gap. Elizabeth was a merchandiser at J. Crew, so Cummings made the move to work at J. Crew in Austin for about 12 years.
“I started as a merchandiser there then became a part of the NSO team, which is New Store Openings,” Cummings said. “I traveled to open up new stores, did remodels for merchandising, I was the women’s and men’s merchandising expert and operations expert for several different NSO’s. Basically they go in and set the store up for the companies standard and then we have to make adjustments for the architectural of the building.”
When she was on an NSO trip to Seattle, her district manager called and asked if she could take over an Austin store. This meant she would become the store director, so she moved back and her store was successful in consistently hitting their numbers even during Covid. Cummings’s store was number one in their district and region for J. Crew cards for top volume and spread.
“I had a lot of success with J. Crew as the store director, which you have to work through your people and hire people to be your merchandiser,” she said.
“I was in New York for my birthday in May, and for the first time in a long time I felt more alive. The city really fed what I needed, so I contacted my district manager and asked if there were any openings in New York. There wasn’t too many but they created a position for me at the flagship store.”
In her new position with J. Crew, Cummings is helping with men’s merchandising. She has already helped some people like Trevor Noah who is best known as the host of “The Daily Show,” get into his suit, as well as helping out producers from Law and Order.
“It’s been a lot of fun being in the city because you get to see a high volume of people,” Cummings said.
Cummings has set her next goal to becoming part of the communications team for J. Crew at the main headquarters in downtown New York.