Collette Wixom is saving for her four-year-old son's college tuition by featuring him in branded attire on social media, with a following of 175,000.
The account, @MiniStyleHacker, features photos of the 4-year old dressed in dapper attire. In many of the posts, he "hacks" the look of a celebrity, dressing exactly like Ryan Gosling or Pharrell. The account has amassed more than 175,000 followers since it was started less than a year ago by his mother Collette Wixom.
"I started this to do something creative and fun other than sword fighting and mud piemaking," Wixom said. "I never imagined it would become what it is today."
She thought of the idea after her friends showed her some pictures of kids on Instagram wearing Gucci and Ferragamo. She wanted to show how she could dress her son both fashionably yet on a budget, which eventually garnered attention from retail marketers.
"I was very surprised when brands started reaching out," she said. "This is all very new to me."
While the Facebook-owned platform requires users to be at least 13 years old, Wixom clarifies the account is actually hers but used mostly to depict her son. In fact, Ryker knows little about the account, and is sometimes even unaware his mother is photographing him. "I've showed him the blog, and he asks me why guys dress like him," she said. "I say, 'I don't know, they must really like your style.' "
Wixom said she's bombarded with emails from brands everyday looking to use her site for promotion. She currently buys many of her son's clothes from Gap and Zara, but increasingly gets free products from Skechers and other brands, who hope to be featured on her account.
She recently began working with an agency that matches influencers and pays them to work with brands. She's now making money off the blog, and thinks she may be able to quit her full-time job in sales publishing by next year.
"My passion is my children. If I can do something that lets me be around my boys, that would be the ultimate for me." For now, she's saving the extra money for her son's college expenses.
The popularity of brands targeting users through Instagram is part of a trend where brands are increasingly eyeing tastemakers to promote their products.
Requests for comment from Skechers were not returned at press time. Gap did not directly address paying users to promote items, however they did provide information on their latest marketing initiative for the Banana Republic brand.
"We know our customer is very active on Instagram so we created an ad campaign in partnership with Instagram that not only feels authentic to the brand, but helps us remain relevant to our current customer while also expanding our reach to a new generation of customers," a company spokesperson said.
Gap recently announced it's partnering with three tastemakers on Instagram to help showcase its fall lineup, in which it will also use some of their photos as sponsored ads on the platform. In essence, they're paying both the influencers and also paying Instagram to show its ads.
While Wixom continues to see massive follower growth and increased financial opportunities, she emphasizes the importance for her to keep it fun. "I don't want it to be something he doesn't like doing," she said.
"He is a 4-year old. He's not a model kid who will do whatever I say."
-By CNBC's Uptin Saiidi