Business News

Alexandria Entrepreneurs Merge Talents to Create Revolutionary Mantis Mask

“We are geared up to make hundreds at a time for restaurants and small businesses”

Pat McMahon and Sue Kovalsky share a socially-distanced elbow bump inside the Mantis Mask micro-factory. (Photo: John David Coppola)

Alexandria, VA – Back in March 2020, when the news kept reporting how virus frontline workers did not have enough personal protective gear, innovative designer Pat McMahon knew he could help somehow. “I can make anything if I set my mind and hands to work,” he says from his workshop at McMaker Studios.

A self-described “maker”, McMahon’s accomplishments include making museum-quality prints of George Washington’s paintings for the Mount Vernon Estate as well as countless other priceless works when he was a partner at Old Town Editions, on Powhatan Street.

He says his mission is “to breathe new life into reclaimed materials by giving them new function and meaning helping to insure a sustainable future for the planet.” For example, he has turned an ordinary van into a dream fishing camper, built rustic cabins and tiny houses, worked with wood to make heirloom-quality epoxy river tables and other furniture, and now finds himself in the mask and face shield business.

He started playing with face shield designs and wanted to make and start donating them right away, but quickly discovered the materials would take months to acquire.

Pat McMahon at the site of his former table saw now replaced with scissors and fabric with Mrs. McMahon at the far end installing the final stitches with the sewing machine. (Photo: McMaker Studios)

While waiting for the clear plastic to arrive he and business partner Sue Kovalsky, got to work creating affordable, fashion-forward face masks as government and social mandates were calling upon everyone to “Mask Up!”

Full-time realtor, and Del Ray Business Association President Sue Kovalsky says, “We have known each other for many years, and I have never met a more passionate, honest caring person than Pat.”

Pat McMahon models his patent-pending baseball cap shield, which sells in a 6-pack for $15.00. (Photo: McMahon Studios)

“I was already concerned every time I heard another news report about frontline workers running out of personal protective gear,” she says, and was hooked on McMahon’s vision when he approached her and said, “I can re-tool the shop, we can make a difference, what do you think?”

“I turned in my saw for scissors,” McMahon says when talking about converting his table saw into a sewing station.

“We came up with our own custom design after trying dozens available on the market,” says the pair. Mantis Masks, so named because before they get the final stitching, the design looks like a praying mantis, are made of a reusable, stretchy fabric and are available in a variety of colors and sizes. They are ALL Made in the USA, and ship via Priority US Mail with a tracking number or can be picked up in person. Larger local orders may even get hand-delivered.

“I just delivered 350 to the Vice Mayor for the City!” McMahon shared.

Because they are running a micro-factory with the machines they purchased, their masks can be produced quickly and in mass quantities, ideal for small businesses and restaurants.

Kovalsky adds that they saw some companies were “price gouging” and they both think that is wrong. Their company, Mantis Masks, is making affordable protective gear to protect as many people as possible. “More people wearing masks is better for all of us,” McMahon says.

The masks sell for only $5.00 apiece in packs of 3/$15 for a very breathable fleece, and 3/$20 for the scuba knit. They also have adorable children’s masks, in colorful fabrics, sized appropriately. “We’re just trying to pay for the laser-cutting machinery we bought and be able to donate more,” McMahon adds.

Mantis Mask business partners Pat McMahon and Sue Kovalsky outside McMaker Studios. (Photo: John David Coppola)

And the creativity is not stopping. “Just today I launched a protective face shield that clips to a baseball hat!” McMahon excitedly told Zebra. “I just submitted the patent paperwork before you called!”

Visit for their whole product line.

ICYMI: Reaching the Other Side of COVID-19 – One Family’s Experience with Pandemic

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

Related Articles

Back to top button