Earlier this year, Novalis Innovative Flooring named Kimberly Hill as director of marketing and creative design for its North American operations. She’s responsible for guiding all facets of marketing strategy for the Novalis brand including retail, trade shows, media and social channels. Hill has built a career in creative roles and brings with her more than two decades of industry knowledge. She is an experienced leader with an intuitive understanding of her customer and changing trends. Most recently with Mohawk Home, she served as the creative director leading new product development for big box retailers like Target and Lowes. Prior to that, she held leadership positions at Shaw Industries, Springs Global U.S., and Milliken & Company.
FT: How did you get into the flooring business?
Hill: I started in the flooring business at 19 years old as a freshman in college. My art history professor announced that Milliken was looking for a part-time design tech. I honestly had no idea what the job really was, but I knew that it would be a great opportunity to gain design experience in the business world. I got the job and 20 years later have never left the industry. In those years, I have been a designer, a colorist, a design manager, a creative director and now my current position director of marketing and creative design.
FT: What drew you to work in flooring?
Hill: I always knew that I wanted to find a way to merge my love of design with the business world, hence the graphic design degree rather than something in fine arts. Trend forecasting, color development, interior design and fashion are all passions of mine. Flooring is a great way to integrate those passions with a career in business.
FT: What are some goals for this first year at Novalis?
Hill: My key goals this year center around taking an amazing company to the next level. Novalis is a key leader in the industry and my goal is to celebrate the energy and innovation of this vibrant company using the latest trends in marketing and design. Growing brand awareness through new channels, creating meaningful content for our customers and promoting Novalis as the brand authority in both design and innovation are my primary goals for the year.
FT: How has your degree influenced your career path?
Hill: I have a BA with a concentration in graphic design. I feel like my degree gave me a great foundation for a career in design and marketing. I learned the essentials of combining color and pattern, how to recognize styles from different eras, of how to track trends and most importantly how to put a creative plan together and follow it thru to completion. My college was private, very small and strict. While there were times that I regretted my choice, especially during exams, I think that by going to a college that challenged me (while also working for Milliken) I learned to have a great work ethic and gained serious time management skills. I spent four years going from class to work back to class and then nights in the studio, but I graduated cum laude and have had a great career to show for it.
FT: Tell me more about your approach to color and design. What inspires you?
Hill: I find inspiration absolutely everywhere...nature, travel, architecture, art, a great dress, social media, blogs and magazines are just some of my resources. Interior design comes from women’s fashion and my approach to trend-forecasting always starts with the runway. Not all trends will make it to interior design, and some will never even make it to mainstream clothing brands. But you look for what is resonating with the mass market. It might be a color, a style, an era or even just a silhouette.
FT: What do you like to do in your free time?
Hill: My husband and I are avid boaters. We spend most summer weekends aboard a vintage cabin cruiser with our two Airedale Terriers. I love to travel and experience new places. We get away as often as we can. My passion for design also spills over into my private life. I spend way too much of my free time on social media, reading shelter magazines, design and recipe books. I love the research and planning process. It could be for my next big home renovation/redecoration project, a work project, looking at recipes for hosting family for the weekend or researching the next vacation.
FT: What opportunities do you see for women in the flooring business?
Hill: The opportunities are absolutely endless. I have worked with uber-talented women who are amazing engineers, salespeople, marketers, designers and accountants. There is an opportunity for any interest that you have in the flooring industry. The most important thing is to find something that truly inspires you.
FT: What advice do you give to women entering flooring that would help them achieve their career goals?
Hill: To be confident in yourself and always be willing to take on an assignment that is out of your comfort zone. It is outside of our comfort zones where we grow the most.