Tina Dixon Spence, the mompreneur behind Buddha Babe, a line of bibs, blankets, clothing, and other accessories in stylish patterns and colors befitting tiny future hipsters.
Online at mybuddhababe.com or at retailers like Momo's Tree House (205 Arch St., Philadelphia).
When Dixon Spence had her second son 2 1/2 years ago, she noticed something about all the baby clothes and bibs on the market. "They were so babyish. I was like, enough with the ducks!" She wanted her son - though he was, in fact, still a baby - to "look like a cool kid." After weeks of cool-hunting, she spotted a bib that looked more like a scarf, but it was way too flimsy. So she bought a sewing machine, learned to sew by watching YouTube, and made her own version of the scarf bib, with a cotton surface and absorbent bamboo-fiber interior. A few months later, she started Buddha Bibs, an online bib shop that grew into her current line, Buddha Babe.
Dixon Spence said she develops her designs by envisioning what she'd like to see her own kids in - for example, a harem pant she designed as an alternative to leggings, which she loathed putting on her own son. ("People kept thinking he was a girl!" she said.) She orders her fabrics from Spoonflower, the print-on-demand online fabric store, and has started commissioning designers to create designs just for Buddha Babe.
Dixon Spence started the business at her dining room table in Manayunk, and it grew so fast she moved it to a studio in Germantown. Instead of quitting her day job, she hired two staffers - other moms who also work part-time as their schedules allow. Investors have approached her with offers to expand the business, which did $22,000 in sales in the last three months. But she said she'd rather keep it small and ethical. "I've toured a lot of factories, and I'm not impressed with the working conditions," she said. "I'm more interested in supporting other families with my payroll."
A friend sewed the first 30 bibs Dixon Spence made for her son into a keepsake quilt that now hangs on the wall in her studio. "It reminds me of very humble beginnings, and I can look at the changes and improvements I made along the way. It shows my growth and evolution."