Durban – He may be only 18 months old, but Durban toddler Makhosini, aka baby_makhosini in the cybersphere, has fast become a social media phenomenon and popular influencer.
His mother, Sithelo Shozi, who is also ranked as an influencer when it comes to fashion on social media, told The Independent on Saturday this week that, “Makhosini loves the camera and knows all the angles”.
Shozi, who grew up in Umkomaas but now lives in Durban, is a final-year student in political science. She said Makhosini’s popularity on social media platforms Twitter and Instagram had soared in the past few months and he was setting the pace in the world of toddler trendsetters in South Africa. He garnered 25 000 followers on Insta with just over 150 posts.
“When I was pregnant, I was posting outfits for expecting mothers and after Makhosini was born, people were eager to see him. I started posting pictures of him and it got out of control, with even memes appearing about him and everyone sharing his pictures.
“He’s so young, I pulled it back a bit so that I had more control of what pictures of Makhosini were going up. His pictures go through my Twitter account, but he does have his own Instagram account. Lots of moms also have accounts for their children and so they started following him and in-boxing with questions, such as where he gets his clothes,” she said.
And both Shozi and Makhosini get sent lots of questions, from his style to toddler-related questions.
“Many moms ask questions with regard to the growing steps of a child and I share my advice, although I have had girls also asking for his (Makhosini’s) number,” she said.
And while Baby M’s mommy chooses his outfits, Makhosini also likes to have a say in his look for the day.
“He is very confident, he loves attention and knows exactly what he wants.
“When I am laying out his clothes, he will take out a jacket or a pair of jeans that he wants to wear.
“It seems he knows it’s important to me and he definitely has a flair for it.
“It’s something I enjoy and when it comes to style, I think it’s something you either have or you don’t,” she said.
And Makhosini is happy to strut his stuff and clearly comfortable in front of the camera, which Shozi describes as “when he’s taking pictures, he goes into the mode”.
She said Baby M’s father was also supportive of his son’s social media fame status, as were her family.
“At first my family were a bit sceptical, especially my mom. But they have become more relaxed and are now very supportive,” she said.
As Instagram has exploded, so has the phenomenon of “kid influencers”.
An influencer is a person who is deemed by the marketing industry to have garnered enough social media presence to influence potential buyers to a specific brand, although Shozi said she would like to establish a clothing line for Makhosini which can grow with him.
One of the first kid influencers was Taylan Cadd from the US, who first attracted the attention of the Kardashian celeb clan. Taylan, 3, who became an internet sensation for her “kissy face”, was the Kardashian’s first social media influencer for their Kardashian Kids brand.
There are, of course, the children of the rich and famous who are influencers without even trying. Think celeb royalty such as the Beckham’s brood or the “Brangelina pack”, even though Brad and Angelina are no longer.
Top toddler trends are often set by real royal tots with Britain’s two-year-old Princess Charlotte already being dubbed a fashion icon.
When official photographs were released of the cute royal wearing a yellow cardigan on her second birthday, they instantly sold out at UK store John Lewis with online copycats going up for offer soon afterwards. The print smock dress which the tot wore on a royal visit to Germany also resulted in a six-fold increase in internet searches, with an eBay spokesperson describing the little princess as having the “biggest spend power” of the royals this year.
The Independent on Saturday