I Tried the Mask Made for & by Hospitality
by David Klemt
Wearing a mask is part of everyday life, particularly for hospitality industry professionals.
DCBL Masks was designed by hospitality professionals for the hospitality industry, born out of their reverence for the workers putting themselves at risk so the communities they serve can retain a semblance of their normal lives.
Their first mask, the X-1, is intended to provide solutions to the problems presented by other face coverings.
One problem with the standard masks and face coverings we’ve grown accustomed to is their tendency to muffle voices. One of the driving design elements behind the DCBL X-1 is the projection of the wearer’s voice.
The X-1 is a three-piece mask and its second layer is what sets it apart from others. The middle layer is sound-enhancing, sculpted foam that allows the wearer’s voice to carry. No more going hoarse from yelling, no more (or less, at least) repeating oneself, no more guests leaning in or stepping closer to hear what’s being said (hopefully).
That second layer is also intended to improve breathability. The inside layer’s design provides an air pocket for similar breathing functionality. It’s also made of natural bamboo so it’s soft, moisture-wicking and cooling, and it receives an antimicrobial treatment.
The X-1’s outer layer is polyester and resists dust and moisture while also protecting against UV rays. There are two flexible “suspension” systems, one for the nose and one to seal the bottom of the mask. Straps are Spandex, ear loops are adjustable, and there’s a clasp system so the wearer can choose how to secure the mask to their head.
Designed by Industry Pros
DCBL is the brainchild of industry veterans Michael Tipps and Homan Taghdiri. Tipps and Taghdiri are the co-founders of both DCBL Masks and Invictus Hospitality, a consulting agency headquartered in Los Angeles.
Tipps boasts over two decades’ experience in hospitality. He got his start in South Florida and has worked every front-of-house position. His journey through hospitality helped him gain perspective regarding the challenges inherent to the industry, and he eventually co-founded Invictus.
Taghdiri worked in hospitaity for 13 years before becoming a licensed attorney in California. He has worked every position in the industry. While he no longer studies law, when he did, he specialized in real estate, business and the hospitality industry.
There are three main goals DCBL seeks to achieve: Protection, projection, and connection. I’ve explained how they achieve the first two goals.
If the first goal isn’t realized, goals two and three don’t matter. If DCBL whiffs on the second goal, the third is unachievable. The X-1 seeks to make conversation easier when wearing masks so people can feel more connected. Being separated by masks, distance, barriers, and staying at home is detrimental to us all. The DCBL X-1 addresses that issue.
As the DCBL website says, “Staying safe and making a living shouldn’t be as challenging as it has been.” I feel the brand accomplishes their deceptively simple goals.
First things first, I didn’t receive my X-1 in exchange for this post or any monetary compensation. I was genuinely curious about the mask and placed an order for two.
My masks arrived in a black bubble mailer, making them seem a little cooler from the start. They were each sealed in their own packet with an insert that explained the three layers, different methods for securing the X-1, machine washing instructions, and more.
In my experience, the mask felt soft and comfortable before even putting it on. The X-1 feels like a well-constructed, high-quality mask.
I have to say, I dig the interior layer. Not only is it soft and comfortable, the design detail is a nice departure from the white, black or pale blue to which we’ve all become accustomed:
It’s comfortable on my face and it allows me to speak comfortably, clearly and loudly no extra effort. I wore mine around my place and while writing this article. The ear loops are comfortable for me but the X-1 can be worn easily with an ear loop extension or toward the top of the head with the clasp system.
My glasses did fog slightly at first, but that became a non-issue after I adjusted the nose bridge suspension area.
Other people’s mileage may very, of course, but I feel that the mask delivers on DCBL’s mission statement: Be Heard.
Disclaimer: The DCBL X-1 is not a medical-grade mask and is not intended as a replacement for medical-grade equipment or other recommended measures to stop the community spread of any viruses.
Images taken by author.