Jews of Philly Fashion: Tina Dixon Spence

Tina Dixon Spence. Photo by Heather McBride Photography

It’s the newest edition of Jews of Philly Fashion, introducing you to the Chosen few who dress our city. They might mix wool and linen, but they’ve got some strong opinions on mixing stripes with florals. In this space, we’ll talk to designers, sellers, buyers, influencers, models and more. This week, we spoke to Tina Dixon Spence.

In a year that forced brick-and-mortar retailers the world over to pivot with haste to e-commerce, Tina Dixon Spence, 48, took the opposite approach.

After six years of running an online-only boutique for babies and toddlers, Dixon Spence, a congregant at Tiferet Bet Israel, decided that 2020 was the year that she would bring her line of swaddles, bibs and everyday clothing to a bright corner in Mt. Airy.

Her store, Buddha Babe, opened on Small Business Saturday in November. A sign of the times: Parents perusing peacock print blankies at Dixon Spence’s store will also find patterned face masks for children and onesies that read, “born into this mess. COVID19BABY.” Her products are still available online.

Dixon Spence’s journey to the corner of Emlen Street and West Mount Pleasant Avenue was a winding one. The Chestnut Hill native grew up with another path planned for her, one that is perhaps the precise opposite of a baby boutique — she was expected to take over the family funeral home.

She entertained dreams of pediatric surgery as an alternative, but when it came time to make a decision, the thought of medical school was too much to handle. Dixon Spence went to mortuary school instead and returned home, focusing on the administrative side of the family business. Still, she yearned to break away.

The skills she picked up as administrator served her well in that respect, as she made a long career outside of the funeral home in several jobs as an administrative and executive assistant. Dixon Spence especially cherishes the time she spent working with Maddy Malis, the long-time president and CEO of Federation Early Learning Services.

With the birth of her second son, Baron, Dixon Spence was thrown back into the world of infant-rearing, long after she’d had her first son, Jeremy. And in such a world, one is faced with vexing questions. Like, how do you keep an exceptionally drooly baby both dry and stylish?

Maternity leave can give one a lot of time to explore such questions, and Dixon Spence picked up sewing during that period. Four months after Baron was born, the online edition of Buddha Babe was launched, too. Baron — the Buddha Babe himself — has grown right alongside the store, and remains integral to Dixon Spence’s fit specifications. Dixon Spence kept her day job until June, and now, she’s ready for Buddha Babe to settle right into its new home.

What clothing trend would you like to see make a comeback?
I’d love to see a more formal approach to the comfortable loungewear of this year. I like when people dress up!

Dream Shabbat dinner guest?
Maya Angelou.

What’s something you can’t believe you used to wear?
Scrunchie socks — they chopped off our legs in the ’80s.

What celebrity baby is the most stylish?
There has been no child I’ve seen to embrace the beauty and joy of fashion more than my own son Baron. But otherwise, Luna Stephens, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s daughter, is always on point.

What item of clothing should more people be wearing?
Easy one — masks.

What person’s style do you admire?
Renee Hill, our local designer who was on “Project Runway,” has incredible style. Her Harx 4 line is a great mix of comfort, design and pieces that work in any occasion.

Best take-out in Mt. Airy?
Evo Brick Oven Pizza and The Frosted Fox Cake Shop for dessert.

What talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could heal people who are suffering. It’s all of our duty to do so. l


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