The Mask That Proves ‘Money Never Sleepz’
Babson College alum Greg Gonzalez has put a literal spin on Snoop Dogg’s classic ’90s lyrics, “My mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
Gonzalez is the founder of Money Never Sleepz, a company creating novelty sleep masks filled with shredded U.S. cash.
“I was always trying to think of the next million-dollar idea,” says the self-described hustler, who started selling candy bars on the bus in elementary school and knocked down doors in his neighborhood during the holidays hawking wrapping paper. “My friend started saying, ‘You’re always talking about money. You probably think about money in your sleep.’”
His response? “Money never sleeps.”
Gonzalez decided to cash in on his ah-ha moment after discovering the U.S. Department of Treasury sells five-pound bags of shredded currency, destroyed if found imperfect during the printing process. The only issue was that five pounds wasn’t enough.
After six months of back and forth with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Gonzalez walked out with two clear trash bags of shredded money, totaling roughly $100,000. The then college freshman transported it back to Babson the only way he knew how: the MBTA.
He’s been receiving curious looks for his Money Mask ever since.
“It’s a gag gift that has functionality behind it,” Gonzalez says. “People will buy it because they think it’s funny. One woman told me, ‘My husband loves sleeping masks and wears them when he travels; he’ll get a kick out of this one.’”
But to Gonzalez, who spends his days working at a New York software startup in the commercial real estate space, the product also represents his personality. “I consider myself a pretty funny, clever kind of guy,” he adds, noting he often hears his peers say, “If there was anyone to create this, it would be you.”
Gonzalez cold-emailed several suppliers before finding a manufacturer to create a prototype of his mask. He packed the prototypes in his dorm room, but soon lost a retail distribution deal because of incorrect barcodes on his packaging.
With 400 masks stashed in a rolling suitcase, however, he traveled to New York City to see if souvenir stores would be willing to sell his product. At one store, a customer approached him at the cash register and asked to buy a Money Mask on the spot.
“That was my first official sale,” Gonzalez says. “I was basically taking my suitcase and going store to store.”
Nearly 10 stores started selling the Money Mask, which comes in “Original,” featuring only dollar signs, or with “New York” on the front, the words designed out of skyscrapers. An Original costs $8.99, while the NYC Money Mask costs $9.99; each can now be purchased online.
Gonzalez’s goal is to sell 2,000 masks during the upcoming holiday season and, if successful, plans to branch out into other city-specific masks, Boston included. From there, he could be launching “Money Hats,” which are—surprise—hats filled with shredded money. Gonzalez is currently “looking at some licensing deals with hat manufacturers,” and is convinced the Money Hat will be “a lot more functional” and an accessory people will wear more often.
“My vision is to really create an experience that, from packaging to the product itself, will make people smile and laugh,” Gonzalez says. “I’ve made so many mistakes, but I’m happy when I look back on how far along I’ve come. I’ve learned so much.”
That’s what you get for sleeping with money on your mind.