It’s no secret that Instagram has played a key role in making the fashion world a more inclusive place. From offering industry outsiders a virtual front-row seat at runway shows to giving indie designers an instant global audience, the app is filled with opportunities for fashion hopefuls big, small, and—in this case—pint-size. It’s true: While grown-up bloggers have earned a living through brands willing to pay big money for wearing (and tagging) their designs, there’s a new wave of mini influencers taking over the Insta fashion scene—and they’re not even old enough to watch a PG-13 movie.
“Zooey was almost 3 years old when I started her Instagram,” says Mai Nguyen-Miyoshi, mother to now 4-year-old Zooey Miyoshi of @zooeyinthecity. “Because I had worked in social media and was surrounded by fashion and style bloggers for so long, I already had a sense of how I wanted to run Zooey’s account. I wanted to stick to what I thought was cool and not cheesy, and I guess it worked!”
Oh, it worked. Zooey has more than 30,000 Instagram followers, and each adorable, wait-I-want-that-outfit-in-my-size post averages around 1500 likes. Nguyen-Miyoshi—along with a handful of other social-savvy moms, like Sai De Silva who runs @scoutfashion, Nikki Yip who runs @kingandkaui, and Katie Morgan who runs @liv_and_willow—know how to showcase inspiring kids’ looks without overexposing their little ones, and brands are taking notice in a major way.
“We didn’t start charging brands until Zooey reached 10K followers and averaged over 800 likes per photo,” Nguyen-Miyoshi reveals. “It only felt fair because it’s so much work to take her out on location and shoot. Instagram posts can range from $150 to $300, depending on the relationship with the brand, how many posts the brand wants, and what type of collaboration it is. We charge between $250 and $300 for giveaways or Instagram takeovers. For official photo shoots, her agency charges $150 per hour, plus a 20% agency fee. The most we’ve been paid for a shoot was $600 for one and a half hours of work. Zooey has gotten pretty professional and performs extremely well shooting in a studio, so she always gets the shot pretty fast.”
While De Silva politely passed on discussing financials, she did reveal that running @ScoutFashion, along with the blog Scout the City, has definitely become a full-time job. “I’m very fortunate to work with my daughter because I never miss moments and we create amazing memories together. It truly is a dream job, especially for a parent!”
Yip, who puts together incredibly cool outfits for her son Kingston and daughter Kaui that North West would want to steal, notes that she “doesn’t charge per post like most people do” since “receiving free stuff is a gift in itself,” but they do receive $100+ an hour for jobs booked through their agency
Morgan, a mother of three who manages her daughters Liv and Willow’s modeling careers, charges a baseline of $30 per Instagram post and around $170 an hour with a three-hour minimum for photo shoots. Morgan’s children also model for Revolve, which recently launched a kids’ category. The e-tailer’s VP of brand marketing, Raissa Gerona, tells us the brand currently “does not have a kids’ ambassador program, but will explore this as the interest in kids’ fashion continues to grow.”
So which designers can vouch for these rising Insta stars? Ashleigh Dempster, co-founder of celebrity kid–favorite AKID, raves about both @zooeyinthecity and @kingandkaui, noting that she “absolutely adores their parents—they couldn’t be nicer! What I love about both Mai and Nikki is that they let their kids be kids. The photos posted are curated but not contrived.”
MINI X founder Emily Wassall shares Dempster’s sentiment, noting that “Zooey’s style gives most of the adult style bloggers a run for their money.” Ultra Violet Kids founder Michelle Chaplin adds that Nguyen-Miyoshi, as well as Joy Cho of @OhJoy, are “lovely to work with.”
Although being a nice person will clearly get you far in this kids’ fashion game, Nguyen-Miyoshi has some serious pro tips for getting started. “To be successful and grow the right following, you need to create quality content that brands will want to regram,” she explains. “Good photo-editing skills are a plus. Create your child’s own style, and focus on what makes your child stand out, but in a classy way. I’ve read a lot about the type of photos we should post of our kids on social media to prevent creepy and bad people from following. It’s one of the reasons Zooey is usually wearing sunglasses in her photos.”
Nguyen-Miyoshi also says to avoid over-hashtagging in the first caption line, which is a good rule of thumb for any Instagram user, really. “Save your hashtags for your second line,” she adds. “Your goal is to become the top post on all the hashtags you use.”
While kids’ fashion has been an Instagram favorite for quite some time (the#KidsFashion hashtag alone has more than 5.1 million posts), the actual business of this unique income stream began to take off in 2012, when accounts like @MiniStyleBlog started regramming cool kids’ looks while tagging the family and brands behind them.
Today there are literally hundreds of Instagram accounts dedicated to this fashion phenom, and this is only set to increase. But here’s the real question: Does this emerging business have true staying power? Will brands continue to financially reward parents for dressing their kids fashionably? Only time will tell, but our guess is that the business of kids’ fashion will soon span across all digital platforms—and beyond.