Mask makes TIME magazine’s best inventions list

Modeling the mask is Julia Duvall, a product designer for Breathe99. 

Every year, TIME magazine highlights inventions it says “make the world better, smarter and more fun.”

This year, that list includes the B2 Mask by Breathe99; a reusable respirator mask that protects its wearer from 99% of harmful contaminants. The Press featured the mask and its local connection earlier this spring.

“When it comes to stemming the spread of COVID-19, there’s probably no more important item than the face mask,” TIME staff wrote in the Nov. 19, 2020 “Best Inventions” publication. “It’s certainly the one consumer product that defines 2020. And while any number of variations could be considered a ‘best invention,’ three impressed us most.” At the top, and on the cover, was the B2 Mask.

The second-generation mask was developed by a group of young entrepreneurs headquartered in Minneapolis. It was their answer to an urgent need during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the team members is Julia Duvall, a White Bear High School grad and the daughter of Mark and Evelyn Duvall of White Bear Township. Julia has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in apparel product development. Her role is product designer for the textile overlay portion of the mask.

“I am still reeling from the news,” she said. “Our small team at Breathe99 is incredibly humbled to receive this placement in TIME. The recognition is simply confirmation for the pride I already held for my colleagues.”

Duvall added her talented team is excited to continue innovating and has already come out with a new, highly breathable alternative filter, the B2 Filter Lite, now available for purchase. She’s also working on a second-generation fabric overlay, which should be available for purchase soon. 

The Press wrote about the startup’s kickstarter campaign last April, “Startup’s medical mask offers ‘sustainable protection.’” At its conclusion, 4,161 backers pledged close to $500,000 to make the project happen. 

Nominations for the annual list are solicited from editors and correspondents around the world and through an online application process, according to TIME. Contenders are evaluated on factors like originality, effectiveness, ambition and impact. This year, “Masks That Do More” were given a special feature under the Style category with three selected: the B2 ($59.99); a mask by Petit Pli made from recycled plastic bottles ($38) and RunMask by IAMRUNBOX made from materials associated with athletic clothes ($39).

For more information on the B2, see breathe99.com. 

— Debra Neutkens

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