There’s a new kind of stage mom gaining steam. She has nothing to do with dance or acting classes and everything to do with Instagram. Like the familiar street-style stars, bloggers, and #fitspo girls of IG we all follow, kids are skyrocketing to social media fame thanks to their encouraging mothers—and earning serious money doing it.
The New York Times wrote a piece over the weekend about this new breed of stage mom, focusing largely on Princeton, the five-year-old boy (turned style star) behind buzzy Instagram account @princeandthebaker, and his mother, Keira Cannon. During an average week, Princeton (who has over 6,300 Instagram followers) will receive packages from kids’ clothing brands and online stores, with his mom commanding between $50 to $100 for Princeton to wear, be photographed in, and share the new threads with his followers. She said that L’Officiel Enfant, a showroom in Midtown Manhattan, even dropped $250 for a lookbook shoot.
Perhaps the thought of a little kid shilling on Instagram for free clothes leaves you feeling a little weird or uncomfortable, but Princeton’s mom said he loves the attention: “A lot of followers will actually recognize him in the street. And he’ll say, ‘How do people know me?’ or ‘People think that I’m adorable?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re totally adorable.’ He’s a sweet little guy, and it opens him up in ways, because people want to talk to him about what he’s wearing and how he’s doing.”
Princeton’s not alone in this trend either—you may have heard about London Scout, the four-year-old with 105,000 followers, or Millie-Belle Diamond, an adorable toddler with 143,000 followers. Then there’s Oskar, five, and Erica, two, whose mom, Amy Thornton, is the center of a lot of media buzz this morning after revealing to Daily Mail that she receives free designer clothing and fine jewelry every single day—in her kids’ sizes, naturally.
What started as a personal page snowballed into an account with over 34,000 followers, and her children have even received interest from London-based modeling agencies. Oh, and one of her Instagram snaps was selected by Vogue to appear in the December issue.
Australian pint-size influencer Pixie Curtis and her mom, Roxy Jacenko (a high-powered Sydney publicist), also wield major influence on Instagram. With 108,000 followers, Jacenko charges hundreds of dollars to plug everything from flavored milk to shoes and clothes, and @pixiecurtis is also a platform to sell her very own branded merch: a successful collection of girls’ hair bows named Pixie Bows.
So where does all the money these accounts are earning actually go? In Jacenko’s instance, she’s saving it for Pixie to access when she’s older. “Pixie has an account which I opened a week after she was born, and anything that she earns goes into that account so when she’s older, she has a good start,” the mother and publicist told MailOnline.
It should be noted that Instagram requires accounts to be managed by people above the age of 13, which actually led to @pixiecurtis being shut down in 2014 for not complying with the app’s terms. However, a new account was set up the next day and remains active over a year later with more than 100,000 followers.
Jacenko raised an interesting point when defending her decision to post pictures of her daughter publicly, drawing a comparison between Instagram stars and child modeling: “It’s no different to a proud parent or guardian sharing imagery on Facebook or Twitter—or for that matter, a child on the box of a packet of nappies or a washing powder at the local supermarket!” she told an Australian newspaper.
Instagram has over 300 million users, so it seems like a no-brainer that some parents are keen to tap into—and cash in on—the huge audience in the same way stage moms have pursued fame and fortune for their kids through traditional modeling and acting channels in the past. Now all that’s left to do is sit back and wait until Lifetime pilots a social media version of Dance Moms.