Meet Textile Design Alumna Claire Hider ’18, Mohawk Industries Project Manager
By Mary Giuffrida
The Wilson College of Textiles’ spring career fair brought industry professionals from across the country to Centennial Campus. One of these professionals was Claire Hider. Just four years earlier, Hider attended the same career fair as a textile design student looking to find her place in the industry. It was there that she got her foot in the door with Mohawk Industries, a global flooring manufacturer and the very company she represented this year.
“Textiles is a big family,” Hider, a product manager for Mohawk Industries, says. “Coming back and seeing people who really helped contribute to my professional education, my friends, peers and mentors was incredible.”
In her role at Mohawk, Hider is an integral part of a company that serves over 170 countries and 25,000 customers. Hider started at Mohawk as a designer, applying the creativity and skillset she fostered through a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile design (FTD) to creating new and exciting flooring products.
It wasn’t long, however, before she decided to push herself even further. In 2019 she accepted a new position at Mohawk, moving from design into product development, acting on an interest she’d had since starting at the Wilson College.
“I’ve always been interested in the mechanical side of textiles and how design and manufacturing go together,” Hider explains. “Having that education and understanding from the Wilson College of Textiles gave me the confidence to apply for new positions and the foundation on which to keep building.”
In her current position as a carpet product manager, she works with Mohawk’s North American clients.
“My job is really exciting,” she says. “I do anything from portfolio analysis to customer visits where we go out and talk to dealers and receive product feedback. I also get to help make decisions on product design, channel placements and meet influential leaders in the flooring industry.”
Hider wears many hats at her current position. Attending color and design conferences, trend forecasting, and working with Mohawk’s sales teams are just a few of the ways she spends her days.
Hider cultivated the skills needed to wear those hats while she earned both her bachelor’s in FTD and a Master of Science in Textiles from Wilson College, graduating in 2018. She credits the Wilson College with giving her the edge she needed to jump-start her career.
“Being a student at the college, we learned about making a product from the polymer to the finished piece,” Hider says. “With every new opportunity comes a learning curve, but understanding textile fundamentals really allowed me to quickly become involved and actually create a positive impact.”
The immense commitment to the Wilson College community that brought Hider back to the career fair this year started right here on campus. She was the founding member of NC State’s chapter of WithIt, a member of the Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) Student Advisory Board and a member of both Sigma Tau Sigma Honor Society and Kappa Tau Beta Leadership Fraternity.
Putting her thesis to work
While on campus, Hider completed both her degrees in five years through the college’s accelerated bachelor’s master’s program. The program allowed her to integrate the two degrees, starting her master’s coursework in the last year of her undergraduate degree.
As she transitioned to her master’s coursework, Hider’s focus shifted to her thesis. Her research focused on the assessment of digital inkjet printing on jacquard-woven base cloths. She looked specifically at upholstery fabrics used in products such as pillows or cushions you might find in your house.
“We looked at how we could add value to a woven product using printing,” Hider says. “Typically in printing you want to keep the base very flat.”
The fabrics Hider was studying were more heavy and textured than typical base cloths used for printing, meaning keeping them flat for printing was much more difficult.
The aesthetics of the final designs were worth the extra effort. Printing on those heavy fabrics presented many of the same challenges that printing on carpet or other flooring does.
This meant Hider was uniquely prepared to help Mohawk’s design team use digital printing to achieve their vision by revisiting her master’s thesis.
“I looked at color placement and shade matching,” she explains. “The design team decided which colors they wanted and I worked with manufacturing to make sure their vision was translated.”
Her knowledge and experience allowed her to collaborate with the designers to ensure the final product stayed true to the designs.
According to Hider, opportunities like this to apply your education in the industry are endless, and the confidence needed to take advantage of them starts at the Wilson College.
“NC State is an excellent place to achieve your goals,” she says. “Be confident enough to think about what you want and go for it. Embrace the ‘Think and Do’ mentality.”