“I have never liked wearing masks,” begins Dr. Neil Brandon, cardiologist at South County Hospital, “so have spent a lot of time looking for the most comfortable ones.” While Dr. Brandon has been masking up since before most of us thought of “face masks” as anything other than the spa variety, it wasn’t until recently that he thought of developing his own.
“When I was getting ready for my first haircut after the start of the pandemic, I gave some thought to the issues that my barber and his clients would face,” Dr. Brandon remembers, particularly those pesky ear loops. He started testing out designs until he perfected one that was both comfortable and user-friendly, and most intriguingly, strapless.
This “Strapless Magic Mask” quickly became a hit, not just among hair stylists and barbers who call it a “game changer”, but also among Dr. Brandon’s colleagues. “I started wearing it around the hospital,” he says. “Everyone who saw it wanted to try it, and everyone who tried it seemed to like it.” Armed with positive feedback and encouragement from invention company Davison, Dr. Brandon decided to take the marketing and manufacturing of his product to the next level.
“I formed New Age Masks, LLC to sell and market a diverse selection of masks and accessories emphasizing comfort and innovation,” says Dr. Brandon. Clicking through NewAgeMasks.net, you’ll find a surprising list of conventional mask alternatives. There’s the disposable Strapless Magic Mask, of course, but also the Light’n Comfy, a cloth mask with adjustable ear loops and nose bridge, plus replaceable charcoal filters. The Clear’n Comfy features a see-through window for the mouth that allows you to showcase a smile and makes lip-reading possible for those with impaired hearing; in fact, Dr. Brandon donated 400 to the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and the Perspectives Corp for their Deaf and Hard of Hearing services. New Age Masks also offers replacement nose bridges, filters, and ear savers, which remove the pressure of ear loops. With so many products and high demand, it begs the question – how and where are these masks made?
Enter David Pettey, CEO of Response Technologies in Coventry. “They have a contract to make hundreds of thousands of surgical masks for the Department of Defense,” Dr. Brandon explains, having noted the company in a local paper. He reached out and found that Pettey was impressed with the innovative design of the strapless mask, and a short time later, agreed to be its exclusive manufacturer. “[It’s] a great example of where two Rhode Island companies can leverage their creative talents to develop the aspirin to customers’ pain points,” says Pettey. “More of us will wear masks, more of the time, when they are comfortable.” Today, all of the Strapless Magic Masks are made in the Coventry factory from 100 percent American materials, even the double-sided fashion tape that holds them on the face.
Right now, Dr. Brandon continues to market his Strapless Magic Masks and is even approaching national salon chains and nursing homes with in-house cutteries. “Masks are here to stay for a long while,” he says. “Using a variety of mask types, as well as some of the comfort-enhancing accessories, can help make this less of a burden.” Check out the Strapless Magic Mask and more at NewAgeMasks.net.