It’s a stretch to suggest Fulano Librizzi was “just a regular kid” when he was discovered, at age 8. By then, the Manhattan pre-tween had already been spinning for three years, holding his birthday party at SubMercer and posting his mixes online. Every morning before school, he’d tweet to his idols, including fashion-industry favorite DJ Cassidy, who’s since become his mentor and manager.
Although Fulano has entrepreneurial creativity in his genes—his mother, Latham Thomas, is the founder of the wellness site Mama Glow while Dad is artist Nemo Librizzi—his parents say Fulano’s early drive was his own doing. “As far as we were concerned, Twitter was a place for him to express the things he thought were fun: music, the environment, snakes,” says Thomas. “But it very quickly turned into a way for him to market himself.” He keeps nearly 4,000 Twitter and Instagram followers up to date on his projects as a DJ, model, and “kid influencer” for clients that include Gap Kids, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (where he’ll be spinning at the Kids Rock! fashion show on September 11), VH1 and the Clinton Foundation. This summer, he took time off from recording his debut album to celebrate turning 10 with a party at Manhattan hot spot No. 8 sponsored by Flips Audio and covered by the New York Post.
Courtesy of @benjaminlasnier
Taking note of the massive role the Internet has played in helping some of today’s most famous, and most profitable, underage celebrities (Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson) break through to the mainstream from obscurity, kids these days don’t sit around waiting to be discovered. Instead, those with ambition are learning to tweet, blog and otherwise post wherever and whenever, pretty much as soon as they learn how to write. “Instagram-famous” Benjamin Lasnier (pictured above), a 14-year-old Danish kid with good hair and a smartphone, landed a deal with Sony Music while on his way to racking up more than a million followers. Hot on his heels: photogenic 15-year-old Brent Rivera of Los Angeles, a self-described actor and hockey player, but otherwise unknown, with nearly 600,000 followers. And who could forget junior journalist Tavi Gevinson, who at the age of 11 helped usher in the fashion-blogger phenomenon from her suburban Chicago bedroom? She launched the online magazine Rookie with a staff that included more than one New York Times vet, published a Rookie anthology (with a second volume due in October) and was twice named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list—and she hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.
“These days, entrepreneurs don’t have to go to the audience,” says Boston-based social-media consultant Lane Sutton, who is 16. “The audience comes to you.” Kids, Lane says, inherently understand this idea. Lane was 12 when he began using social media to promote his culture and product-review website, KidCriticUSA, and to network with mommy bloggers and advertisers. Soon, he began getting requests from those seeking help with social-networking efforts and scored his first paying client, a sixtysomething entrepreneur, the same year. He now consults for attorneys, realtors, business execs and college counselors and is a paid speaker on the social-media-marketing circuit, with recent appearances at South by Southwest and the Digital Family Summit.
What’s most ironic, says Lane, is that when he went looking for a part-time job this summer, he was repeatedly turned away. “I couldn’t even get a job in a cupcake place,” he says. “For kids, you’ve got being a cashier or scooping ice cream. But why, if you have the mind for something more? I had no choice but to open myself up to an adult’s world.”
While Lane declines to suggest how much cash he’s banked for his college education, he admits that being an entrepreneur has built up both his confidence and his nest egg. “It’s nice to know that if I, say, want a cool watch, my parents don’t have to buy it for me,” he says. “I can cover it myself.”