The following is an article that appeared Southwest Florida Builder/Architect
Four-and-a-half years ago, Paula Nicks, local businesswoman and partner in PAJO, Inc., took up woodturning as a hobby, which quickly turned into a passion and new vocation. Along the way, she encountered annoying health problems due to ill-fitting disposable particle masks. Because of poor seals around the nose and cheeks, leaks caused her protective glasses to fog, which prevented her from seeing the wood she was turning. Off came the mask. Soon she developed upper respiratory problems from the nuisance dust. She knew she had two alternatives: either find a new hobby or build a better dust mask. She chose the latter.
"From having been in the screen printing business for a number of years, I know a lot of manufacturers," Nicks states. "I called a friend who manufactures a unique, patented, interlaced monofilament structure. He sent me enough material to make four masks. Once I had the material in hand, I drew several designs and commissioned another friend, who makes canvas boat tops, to sew some prototypes from my drawings."
Following a number or revisions and refinements, Nicks discovered a shape and combination of straps that fulfilled her needs. (Of particular significance is the nose shaper she designed.) Wondering if they would meet her woodturning peers' needs, she started sharing her invention with other woodturners on a small scale. Within the woodturning community, word of her product spread. With each Dust Bee Gone mask order Nicks sent to a fellow turner, she enclosed a questionnaire seeking information about its utility, ease of wearing, safety and durability. From a 25 percent response rate, she refined her invention to its present state-of-the-art design.
After sales to 100-plus satisfied customers, Nicks decided to "go public." Purchasing table space at a trade show held June 22-24, 1996 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Nicks toted 40 masks to the event.
"I was sold out by the middle of the first day," comments Nicks. "I was in delighted shock. I took over 40 orders after I sold out. Even more exciting was the fact that I was approached by distributors from the United States, Australia, Canada and England. I believe in Dust Bee Gone and so does the woodturning world."
In addition to the interlaced monofilament structure mask, the Dust Bee Gone includes a braided and elastic upper strap with buckle, and a one-inch braided hook and loop fastener lower strap. While Dust Bee Gone masks are reusable for an indefinite period of time (Members of the original test group formed four-and-a-half years ago are still using their prototype masks with no indications of need for replacement) and are very environmentally safe. The major selling point is that they will not fog glasses.
In addition to serving the woodturning craft community, Dust Bee Gone masks are effective against all types of nontoxic dust, including that created by lawn care maintenance (mowing, tree trimming, weed whacking), house cleaning, construction cleanup, silo and grain dust, almost anything that does not involve toxic particles. Retail price is $30.
According to Nicks, several of her customers have reported that the Dust Bee Gone mask has helped alleviate allergies, but she makes no claim with regard to any medicinal benefit.
Be sure to always wear your Dust Bee GoneTM Nuisance Dust Mask too! It's guaranteed to not fog your glasses!
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