By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN – Terina Nicole Hill is ready to share her knowledge and love for fashion design with Camden and the rest of the world – but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans.
The Newark native who studied fashion design in New York City and Philadelphia, fell in love with South Jersey while living in Willingboro and raising a family. Hill said, though, she is determined to make her dream come true officially opening the Fashion Design Center of South Jersey by waiting out COVID-19.
“In 2008 during the recession, I was laid off from my industry job in New York City designing footwear at Cappelli New York,” Hill told Front Runner New Jersey. “There were no jobs to be had and yet I had a child to raise so I was willing to take a teaching job at an after-school program in Elizabeth, New Jersey teaching fashion design. I fell in love with teaching then and it continued to be a stream of income from me for the next 12 years.
“I’ve taught my curriculum everywhere from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. But now that I had a second child (my kids are 14 years apart), running up and down the turnpike to teach is a hardship. Opening my own facility to teach was just a logical next step. Over the years I’ve built relationships with phenomenal fashion industry creatives who will teach their specialties in my space as well.
“My grand opening was scheduled for the March 14, just as the quarantine was beginning. So yes, I built up a great space and got a good amount of press leading up to the opening just to have it put on pause indefinitely,” Hill said.
After graduating high school in Irvington, Hill attended the Arts Institute of Philadelphia and then the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
“But my love for Philly never subsided,” Hill said. “Many years later in 2005 I bought a house in Willingboro with my then spouse, mainly because of its proximity to Philadelphia. I grew an affinity for South Jersey while here. After I divorced and sold my house in Willingboro to go to grad school and earn my MA from [New Jersey City University], I met my new husband who is from Camden and returned to South Jersey with him after graduation.”
Hill said she has been attracted to fashion since she was 11 while attending a magnet school in Irvington, allowing her creative skills to blossom at an early age.
“Add to that my mom made all of my clothes until I was 12 so you can say it was in my blood,” Hill said.
Parkside Business & Community In Partnership (PCBIP) owns the building where she will host her center and credit the group with being one of her biggest backers.
“They have been amazingly supportive and welcoming,” Hill said.
Hill said she understands the value of being a role model, especially following her dream while seeing few African-Americans in her position.
“I’m a mother, a teacher and I may be the only professional fashion designer some people know so it’s important that I represent myself well,” Hill said. “I didn’t have any black fashion designer role models growing up so I understand the value.”
She said her mother continues to be one of greatest sources of inspiration.
“She had three kids and still went back to college to finish her degree and went on to earn three degrees and move up to the highest level at her job, Director of Nursing at a hospital in Virginia with hundreds of nurses reporting to her,” Hill said. “And yet she still makes time for my siblings and our children as a nurturing mom and grandmother.
Hill has her own goals, such as living abroad in five years and growing my businesses internationally. She is ready to take off as soon the pandemic landing strip clears.
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