When 22-year-old Cameron Morey created his first Halloween mask, he wasn’t sure it would turn it into a business, much less one that has earned $1 million.
Morey, who grew up in Santa Clarita, frequently worked as a scare actor for Six Flags Magic Mountain’s annual Fright Fest. One year, while promoting Fright Fest at a Halloween trade show in Los Angeles, he saw someone with a lighted mask and wanted to purchase one for himself, but when he went online to look for one, he couldn’t find anything.
So, Morey purchased some materials and created his own lighted masks with a stitch-faced design and posted them on eBay as a test market.
“I listed them for a few hundred dollars on Ebay and before the week was over I had sold out of the four or five that I had,” Morey said. “Shortly after that was Halloween season, so on my lunch break I would be assembling these masks myself and then they took off. I had to hire my friends and family to help me make them, and we did a few thousand that first year.”
The rapid success during that first year convinced Morey that he had a solid product with a strong business potential, and many of his customers told him they wore the masks not just during Halloween, but throughout the year at various different parties, festivals and raves, which has greatly expanded his market.
“You can go to a party and wear a cool mask to be anonymous for a few days and have fun with it, and I think the rave community likes the product because it’s a little bit different,” Morey said. “I really like being involved in the rave market now because it allows us to expand our product designs beyond just creepy.”
In the beginning, Morey created a mask template, which he used to cut out the holes in his masks where he would hand stitch the lighted wires, eventually getting the process down to five to 10 minutes a mask. He realized that if he really wanted to scale his business he would have to find a manufacturer, and he partnered with a company in China. Now in its fourth year of operation, Morey said his company LightUpMasks ranked No. 2 for masks sold last year on Amazon and Etsy. Since its inception, the company has earned $1 million in revenue, mostly from Halloween sales.
Unfortunately, success spawns imitation, and companies in China began to replicate Morey’s masks. Though he tried to get a patent, Morey said he was denied because the concept was too easy to replicate or tweak to avoid violating the patent.
“It’s really helped us though that people were replicating it because it got us more sales through search results on Amazon and Google, but at the same time it was annoying to see us get ripped off like that,” Morey said.
Beyond just being a hit with the general public, LightUpMasks has also gotten the attention of Hollywood. Morey was contacted by the musical duo The Chainsmokers via Instagram to create custom masks, which they used on tour and featured in their 2018 music video for “Everybody Hates Me.” LightUpMasks also collaborated with the film “The Purge” to design the official replica masks. Other celebrity collaborations include work with Brandon Woelfel, Jake Paul, Bhad Bhabie and Rory Kramer.
Social media has been instrumental to the company’s growth. Outside of the celebrity contacts he has made through platforms like Instagram, Morey uses social media to highlight other artists who have used his masks as a form of advertising.
The internet and social media have also provided Morey with another benefit. When he began his company, Morey didn’t know much about how to run an e-commerce business, and neither did many of the people he knew. He used social media as a resource to connect with people who knew how to run an internet business for advice and also gained knowledge from YouTube and Google.
“There are so many things I could have done right the first time, but had I known them I would have become complacent,” Morey said. “It’s bittersweet because there are things I wish I had known like how to get the right licenses, but learning the hard way has taught me exactly what I should do if I wanted to start another business.”
Brigitta Benitez first discovered Morey while looking for networking opportunities on Instagram, and after learning about the success of LightUpMasks, reached out to try to learn some lessons about business from him. After two years of learning from and befriending Morey, she was brought on to work for LightUpMasks as his assistant.
“Cameron has really showed me the ins and outs of running a successful business from marketing to how to send a business email to who are the proper and improper people to talk to,” said Benitez, who owns the company RedHotChix. “He’s really motivated and with a really good mind for business.”
Benitez added that she appreciates how authentic the product is and how Morey was able to create a market where it did not previously exist.
“Most people think about the next new beauty product or clothing line they want to start, and masks weren’t really a popular thing until he broke out into the scene,” she said. “I think that the biggest reason he has succeeded is because he knows how to market and knows how to reach his target audience. The future is really bright for this company and he can really branch out in a lot of different directions. ”
Morey’s product line has expanded in the past few years, especially to cater to the rave market. His company now offers sound-reactive LED half-face masks and phone cases, lighted goggles and bandanas. Though he has also created new designs for the Halloween masks, the original stitch-faced masks remain his best sellers.
“I think that we’re so successful because we’re a unique product and one of those things that sells itself,” Morey said. “People can relate to a creepy face they want to wear at Halloween. You don’t have to explain it to anybody.”
To learn more about LightUpMasks and to see the entire product line, visit lightupmasks.com.