By Cameron Walker
NC State alumnus Hunter Hendrick spent the summer of 2015 traveling the Silk Road, a network of trade routes connecting Europe and Asia dating back to 130 B.C. He and a fellow Wilson College of Textiles graduate traveled 8,000 overland miles of the ancient path, learning about the people, culture and textile industries of Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.
“My friend Brian Iezzi actually came up with the idea after being informed of the rich textile culture that still exists in parts of Central Asia,” he said. “I was immediately on board because that part of the world is pretty undiscovered and unique.”
On their self-organized trip, the two visited Tbilisi State University in Georgia, the National Carpet Museum in Azerbaijan, the Bukhara and Samarkand Silk Carpet Workshops and the Margilan Silk Factories in Uzbekistan, Kochkor felt makers in Kyrgyzstan, Labrang Monastery printers in Xiahe, China, and the Shanghai Textile Museum on the campus of China’s Donghua University.
Now, the Centennial Scholar and 2016 Wilson College of Textiles graduate (with degrees in both Textile Engineering and Biomedical Engineering) forges his own path as a materials developer at The North Face, a California-based activewear and outdoor apparel company.
“I think the biggest benefit of this trip to my work has been increased cultural competency,” he said. “A large part of my job involves communicating and working with our partners and suppliers in Asia. It definitely helps to be a little more sympathetic and understanding of their culture and how they do business.”
His position at The North Face relies heavily on his strong communication skills, a solid foundation of textile knowledge and the pioneering spirit he fostered on his journey.
“I work with our fabric and trim suppliers to help bring material requests from my design team to life,” he said. “The beginning and end of my day typically involves communicating with these partners as most of them are in much different time zones. The remainder of my time is split between meetings, arranging in-house material testing, quality review and various other tasks required to bring my developments to commercialization.”
Hendrick previously worked as a finishing research intern with Cotton Incorporated and a materials research and development intern with Patagonia. He was a resident advisor during his time at NC State, where he won the Chester H. Roth Honor Award.
“I think just being involved at the Wilson College of Textiles helped build my confidence and made me feel more connected to the industry,” he said. “I would highly recommend either joining a Wilson College of Textiles organization or volunteering at the many events throughout the year.”
He attended the Wilson College of Textiles Job Fair, where he met a representative from The North Face. He held onto their business card and sent in his resume, and didn’t have to wait long before he heard back from the company.
“One phone interview and one onsite interview later, here I am!” he said. “The whole process probably took around six weeks.”
He says life is much busier after college, but he loves his job and his new hometown.
“The Bay Area offers the excitement of the dense and culture-rich urban space, while being in close proximity to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world,” he said.