CommerceNext Growth Show Speaker Series: Danielle Schmelkin, CIO at J. Crew

👉 Register to attend the 2024 CommerceNext Growth Show on June 11-13 in NYC to learn from 150+ industry leaders about ecommerce and retail growth.

At the heart of CommerceNext is a vibrant, dynamic community that drives innovation and growth. As we gear up for the much-anticipated CommerceNext Growth Show on June 11-13, we’re bringing you closer to the thought leaders and trailblazers shaping the future of ecommerce and retail. 

Dive into our exclusive interview with Danielle Schmelkin CIO at J.Crew. She’ll be speaking on the session “Harmony in the C-Suite: Bridging the Gap Between CIOs and CMOs for Digital Success.” Make sure you’re registered to attend and read on for the full interview.


Katja Teichmann: What do you love to geek out on in retail and ecommerce?

Danielle Schmelkin: In retail and commerce, I like to geek out on all things digital. Specifically, obviously anything on my iPhone—who is not with their iPhone 24/7. I get really nervous when the battery goes below 50%. But lately I am kind of in love with trying out the Apple Vision Pro and seeing where we can go with that experience. Words won’t do it justice. You need to put the device on, it’s amazing.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Schmelkin: I am proud of so many things, but I actually think if I look back I am most proud of accomplishments with my amazing teams. To me, your team is everything and I find there’s rarely a problem that you can’t get around if you look at it with that team. And so that’s your superpower: your team. Especially these days, my most important role is empowering those people and creating a vision that is slightly out of reach so they can accomplish amazing things.

What is your favorite store and favorite website?

Schmelkin: Obviously I am obsessed with our stores, but I kind of love Crate and Barrel because every time I walk in there I could just stay for hours. Whether it’s their home goods or their furniture, it’s so inviting. I feel compelled every time I’m in there to spend time. I usually walk out with something. So from a store and walking into a store and really experiencing it, I just love them. 

When you say website, I also think apps, and so there’s so many that are compelling to me, but I look at Sephora as one that continues to be a favorite for me. When I think of beauty I don’t really think of the brand, I think of Sephora. I think they’ve done a really good job in creating that experience for the consumer.

When you’re not working, what’s your favorite way to unwind or pursue creativity?

Schmelkin: When I am not working, I love listening to and discovering music. I love finding those moments with my teenage kids and sharing that love of all things pop culture and movies. Lately I am loving Noah Khan.

At the conference you’ll be talking about harmony in the C-suite. What is one key takeaway that you hope attendees will gain from your session?

Schmelkin: In my session, I really think that the takeaway should be, whatever skill and experience you bring to your role, you should have the same goals as your partners. When we can come at it from the same goal, I actually feel like the harmony just naturally gets fostered and when people can look at it from that perspective, I really think it changes relationships and collaboration.


Rapid Fire Questions

What is your favorite book or movie right now?

I’ll give you both. So my favorite book that I just read is All in Her Head by Dr. Elizabeth Coleman. It’s all about women’s health and it is such an important and really great and interesting read.

My favorite movie right now is an old one but one that’s kind of a comfort for me. I always watch it on the plane: Something Borrowed, based on the book by Emily Giffin.

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Okay, if I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, my answer is a little bit cheating but it is the complete eras Mega mix of Taylor Swift’s music. It’s 13 minutes of a compilation of every one of her songs and it’s brilliant and you need to listen.

What in your opinion is the most overrated Trend in retail right now?

 I believe the Metaverse is the most overrated trend in retail, but this assessment hinges on brand authenticity. If engaging with the Metaverse aligns with your brand’s essence and appeals to your audience, then it may not be overrated for you. However, understanding your brand identity and customer base is crucial.

What is your favorite thing about New York?

My favorite thing is theater. I can’t get enough of it and I’m super excited for all the new shows. Recently I saw SIX! which was amazing and surprising and all kinds of fun.


Want to hear more from Danielle Schmelkin? Register for the CommerceNext Growth Show, June 11-13 in NYC, today!