Inventing the Mask Motel

In the summer of 2020, I was unemployed due to fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic and living in Brooklyn, once the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. After months of total shutdown, bars and restaurants were slowly opening up outdoor seating. Buying a socially distanced drink from my favorite bars felt not just like a welcome return to normalcy, but also a civic duty; with depressingly little assistance from the city, these people and places that make living in New York City worth the hassle deserve my patronage and tips.

My friends and I follow roughly the same face mask etiquette when dining outside: wear a mask until you’re actually eating or drinking. However, once I took my mask off, I didn’t know what to do with it. Stashing it in my pocket with my keys and wallet felt gross. Hanging it under my chin looked dumb (also gross). I usually ended up putting it on the table or hanging it from a chair, where it would immediately blow away. Pretty soon this everyday annoyance moved me to invent a product that I and my friends wanted, but didn’t exist: the Mask Motel.

Mask holders do exist. In Asian countries where mask wearing has long been a common sense way to reduce sickness or allergies, you can find flimsy plastic folders built to hold blue surgical style masks, which are all the same size. In America, it’s more common to keep a selection of cloth masks, which might be different sizes and shapes. I wear both, and I wanted a mask holder that would fit whichever mask I was wearing.

I also wanted it to be easy to carry, easy to clean, and look good. I began experimenting with paper models to find the ideal size to fit most masks. You can fit just about any mask that folds flat in a Mask Motel, even N95 masks if you tuck both straps into the same slot. Mask Motels fold up to about the size of an iPhone, so they’re easy to keep in your pocket or bag. If you don’t have any pockets, you can still use the wrist strap. The anti-microbial lining not only provides some peace of mind, but you can also wipe it down with disinfectant wipes if you choose to, and the entire Mask Motel is washable. 

For several reasons, it was important to me to manufacture Mask Motels in the United States, so I am working with factories here to create a high quality product. I’m very excited to launch the Mask Motel, and I hope it brings some convenience and enjoyment to our “new normal.” If you’d like to be the first to receive news and updates on the launch of the Mask Motel, just submit your email below. And if you have any questions or feedback, you can drop me a line at maskmotel@gmail.com. Stay safe everyone, I can’t wait to show you the Mask Motel!