Have you and your partner ever checked into a hotel room looking forward to a passionate rendezvous, but then later you ended up scrubbing the sheets because of the post-sex mess? New York City-based Claire Alba had firsthand experience of both sides of the problem. And her product, The Layer, is the solution she came up with.
As an Airbnb superhost who often rents out a floor of her tastefully decorated Brooklyn home to couples and is responsible for its maintenance, the 48-year-old mother of two certainly didn’t want stained sheets. And as a single woman who had hot dates of her own from time to time, she frequently faced the same issue herself.
“I found myself single again in my early 40s and had a spell during which I was getting lucky during my most unlucky time of the month. I was scrubbing my sheets, his sheets, hotel sheets, Airbnb linens. It was ridiculous. I tried menstrual cups (they did not work – imagine tipping a dam – it was bad). I brought along my own blanket, stuffed in a large purse. It was cumbersome and didn’t do the job anyway. I needed a product that would save me the embarrassment of finding a mess on the sheets and the time of cleaning it up – not an afterglow activity in anyone’s book!” she says.
So Claire, who did her Bachelor’s in philosophy at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sought out a solution. “I found a material that is luxuriously soft, works impeccably well, and is thin and small enough to bring with me wherever I‘m headed. I also made a small clutch for discretion and ease in bringing it home when the fun is done,” she says, adding, “It feels and works better than a towel – stays put and is amazingly absorbent. Plus, it’s black, so you don’t have to be confronted with the aftermath or be concerned about stains.” She called it The Layer.
Soon, it became obvious to Claire that other people would also find The Layer very practical. “It’s perfect for all sex messes, all the time, for everyone and all persuasions. Indeed, no one wants to sleep in the wet spot. And many, many things may contribute to the wet spot. It makes no difference. The Layer can handle it all!” laughs Claire.
Besides sex, it can also be used as an extra bed-shield during menstruation, and can be a boon for teenagers or women with disabilities who are not able to manage menstrual accidents during the night. The Layer is durable too – it has been tested to withstand 300-plus washes, and just needs a regular wash and tumble dry in the washing machine.
Claire began offering The Layer to her own Airbnb guests, and now retails it at a very reasonable price from getthelayer.com, Etsy and Amazon with worldwide delivery.
Entrepreneurship and e-commerce are, in fact, areas she is well familiar with. As a potter who makes jewellery and home goods, she runs corico.com to retail her ware, and has patented an item called Olive Boat & Pit Port, which can be used to display olives while hiding the unsightly pits.
Born in the Midwest, Claire’s microbiologist father and multi-talented mother moved to Chapel Hill when she was 12. Claire inherited her wit and youthful attitude from her mother, who is of Belgian origin.
“My mother said her impulse, when asked her age, was to answer ‘17’ even as she approached 80. I’m stuck somewhere in my 20s. My sisters are 11 and 12 years older than I am and I skipped a grade in school so I have been very accustomed to being the youngest in the room. Now I’m the mom (divorced) and my boyfriend is 10 years younger than I am, so I have to get used to being the oldest one in the room,” she jokes, adding, “It’s not so bad.”
Having tried out various professions, from being an assistant teacher to producing her own feature-length documentary on the history of salsa music, Claire has developed an eclectic, open-minded approach to life. Music and dance are an integral part of her existence, as they are for her two daughters who both play the guitar.
They are also as immensely gifted as their mom and grandmom: her older daughter, Coco, 19, is an illustrator, fashionista and a spirited “hippie” who has already been cover model for New York magazine. Her younger one, Cori, 15, is a budding photographer who also enjoys skiing, biking, hiking, camping, rock-climbing and kayaking.
It can’t be easy to be single and dating again while living full-time with one’s daughters and adapting to the new world of internet relationships. “Well, that was challenging – still is. It took me some time to get used to online dating – but I find it fascinating. Observing how people write about themselves is really telling. But it doesn’t account at all for chemistry. The tricky part is in deciding when to be flexible and when to recognize a red flag for what it is. That line can be a thin one. But overall, I’ve experienced more love and excitement and support than I had previously imagined for myself. It’s fun!”
As a parting thought, Claire shares something she wrote on a dating website, appropriately enough: “I am striving to create the life I want – not just live it by default.”
First published in eShe’s July 2020 issue