Wearing face masks has become the new normal for Houstonians—especially as Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order that all businesses must require masks took effect Monday.
But it’s summer, and it’s Houston, and that means it’s hot. And while wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, it makes it much harder to cool off with a refreshing iced tea. After all, we have to remove our face masks to enjoy our drinks. Or do we?
Enter fashion designer and Project Runway winner Chloe Dao, who has found a solution to our drinking-while-masked problems with her latest, limited Safely Sip Straw Mask and Antibacterial Premium Face Masks, each priced at $25.
The concept of these new masks was inspired by to Dao and her staff’s love for Starbucks coffee. Dao—who describes fashion designers as fabric engineers—says they would find themselves constantly having to remove their masks to enjoy their beverages, so she finally decided to create a solution that would allow her to refrain from touching her face while sipping her favorite drink.
“I felt like there was a real need to have a 'safely sip' mask,” she says. “Our city and state had opened up, and COVID-19 case numbers were going up. You cannot stop people from gathering and meeting, but while meeting, let’s do it in a way that is safe and enjoyable.”
The masks come in vibrant and eye-catching designs, such as Punchy Floral Print, Red Navy Plaid, Fashion Hands, and Santa Fe Print Mask. They offer carefully hidden slots tucked into four layers of fabric with guaranteed support from the elastic ear loops, nose wire, and full coverage from the nose to the chin. Additionally, the 100-percent cotton-quilt fabric offers the most protection to prevent germs from penetrating through the mask. Your daily caramel macchiato runs in the sweltering heat have never looked more hopeful.
Dao’s mission to better improve her mask designs did not stop there. She has also come up with six antibacterial face masks, which offer sun protection and wick away sweat.
Both masks are made for comfort and come in four sizes, offering options that will fit both children and adults. The products are not meant for medical use or replace N-95 masks; however, with studies showing that wearing some sort of face covering can help slow the spread of COVID-19, these items can help people move through the world during these challenging times with some protection.
Dao was one of the front-runners in mask production. She pivoted her company to start churning out face coverings during the earliest days of the pandemic. Dao worked furiously to research effective solutions to create masks that adhered to safety guidelines while adding a chic and modern style to create fashionable masks. “As a designer and someone who loves solving problems, this was a perfect challenge,” Dao says. “I like to create useful and helpful designs that enrich lives. If this helps save them also, what an amazing product.”
Since the initial launch of Chloe Dao Boutique’s face masks in April, Dao has sold over 7,000 masks and has donated more than 4,000 to individuals and organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House and Hope Clinic. Proceeds for the new antibacterial premium face masks will fund Dao’s efforts to continue assisting both healthcare professionals and individuals in need.
“I do this work because I know making protective gear will help people,” Dao says. “Some of our clients are elderly or have autoimmune health issues. We are not just making fashionable products; we are helping them to continue to be safe. This is why I will continue to design the best fit and breathable masks possible.”