Hi, I'm Leah. I founded Turbella out of frustration with today's imported shower caps that don't work or last and are bad for the environment.
Before diving into what my husband affectionately calls “the shower cap biz,” I was a TV writer and producer. As the co-owner of a television production company in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of creating hundreds of episodes of lifestyle programming for TV networks like Travel Channel, Food Network and HGTV. Basically, my job was telling stories about people around the country and the world who are inviting something new into their lives.
So, it seems fitting to share this “something new” story with you and how Turbella came to be...
You could say it started circa the 1970s, while happily drying off by a toasty wall heater in our Canadian home. I consider this Polaroid to be proof of how much I loved the bathing ritual. (I can't call it "self-care," since it was my mom who tamed the tangles lurking beneath that gigantic cotton towel.)
But as an adult, the daily shower and accompanying haircare wasn't joyful. I began asking other women if they also hassle with their hair every time they step in or out of the shower. Turns out – no surprise to you since you're reading this – those plastic, vinyl and PVC shower caps fail us (not to mention Mother Nature). They waste our money with cheap elastic that quickly stretches out. They waste our time with unnecessary restyling. They feel clammy. They look silly. They just don't work. On top of that, I kept hearing from women is that showering is often the only time they have to themselves, for themselves. Which got me wondering...
Conclusion: The future is female and it's time to get a handle on our hair!
This oddly specific feminist manifesto energized me. So much so that I founded Turbella with the mission of creating the shower caps, turbans and hair-drying wraps that women need and deserve.
They say the best ideas come while showering. I guess mine came while cursing my umpteenth sucky shower cap. The elastic on this particular one was so stretched out after a month that its only usefulness would have been as a tarp for a large pizza. The shower cap before that squeezed so tightly I wondered, under the thunder of water hitting it, if it was reshaping my sweaty head into a figure eight. I usually wasted half an hour post-shower wrestling my hair back from the Swamp Thing. Which got me puzzling...
A triathlete can compete in the most punishing weather conditions and with today's cutting edge technical outerwear, she's covered. That's good. But that same athlete can't take a shower and keep her dry hair styled. That's ridiculous!
What gives? Well, a crunchy disk of plastic stuck on a wimpy strip of elastic. We call it a shower cap although it's actually a bathing cap. It was patented in 1903 to wear while soaking in the (clawfoot) tub – definitely not for standing under a torrent of water in a steamy enclosure.
The shower cap hasn't really changed in those 115+ years. Which is awesome if you're a Victorian ghost. But if you have places to be this millennium, the bathing cap is a crazy-making relic. Maybe crazy is contagious, because I became obsessed developing a shower cap for today's needs and environments.
Can the daily shower be a luxurious treat? Getting to 'yes' lead the way in the early days.
That little person in a big warehouse is me again. This time, circa 2016, while balancing a box I hoped contained a solution to replace ordinary elastic. (Its contents actually did hold a clue...Kind of how these pictures tip you off that I'm a bit shy and prefer that quality speaks for itself. So if you choose to follow Turbella, you know you're safe from unrelenting promotion and selfie assaults!)
IT'S TIME TO BREATHE.
Even today, it's next to impossible to keep dry hair styled with the existing materials and construction used for shower caps. Why? Because plastics and laminated fabrics either don't breathe at all or not nearly enough to manage the hairstyle-hijacking moisture trapped beneath it.
Water goes through holes. For a kindergartener with a watering can, that's fun physics. But if you want to keep your hair dry, hundreds of needle holes in your hair cover is a problem.
The existing construction and materials used for shower caps are a dead end that no amount of tweaking is going to solve. The path to a solution had to begin somewhere else...which brought me back to that triathlete. Outdoor sports companies like REI, Patagonia, and The North Face are blazing the trail for all of us with near limitless possibilities. Thanks to evolving textile technology in athletic wear, it’s possible to keep warm on a high altitude hike and cool on a tropical expedition. We can stay dry while shredding Class V rapids and shake off a torrential downpour on a run. We can ‘just do it’ in the most extreme environments and be comfortable.
With that came a guiding principle for Turbella - Adapt the technical fabrics and construction methods of the best outdoor gear specifically to keep hair dry. Turbella fabrics had to be as soft, light and luxurious as a silk scarf. And as waterproof, breathable and exothermic (geek talk for "heat-releasing") as the premiere technical outerwear. "Pucci meets Patagonia," we called it. It was a start, except it was still uncharted territory. No outdoor sport features hot water in free-fall.
How many women want to wear the rugged technology of a survivalist's tent on her head? We guessed zero.
Getting the waterproof/breathable fabric technology right to protect all types and textures of hair was by far the biggest challenge. It required a year of researching and testing hundreds of materials. Ultimately, we chose to work with three textile mills that also manufacture the technical fabrics for Patagonia, Arcteryx and other elite performance brands.
IT'S TIME TO SUCK IT UP.
It became obvious that to eliminate hair hassles, there also needed to be a better way to dry wet hair. Cotton towels don't cut it – rubbing causes tangles, split ends and breakage to vulnerable wet hair. Balancing a tower of towel on your head is a pain in the neck (sometimes for real). Microfiber hair turbans are also underwhelming – the fabric is a reminder that the car needs washing or the floor needs mopping. Even the most expensive microfiber towel and hair turbans are made in China, like their cleaning cloth counterparts, and lack quality details. No wonder bathing feels like a chore. Yet every woman I know has precious little time for herself.
Then, we looped in - literally - the Austrian gemstone company Swarovski® to fasten Turbella turbans.
All told, it took nearly two years of development and design, countless tests and tweaks, plus more blunders and returns to the drawing board to count to finally get it together.
Finally, the first three pieces of the collection were put to the test by real women. It was thrilling to get their feedback. Even more than confirming we delivered the benefits we'd hoped, it was the specific ways the products were working for women that made me so happy. Many I hadn't even thought of. Leave it to women to be creative and clever, right?
The most gratifying surprise was how many women actually packed their Turbella when they travelled! In honor of these first fabulous women (and the planet), we designed and packaged each Turbella in a PVC-free travel case. I can only imagine the adventures.
It's my sincerest hope that a Turbella makes your hair a joy to handle and taking a shower the treat you deserve.