Jen Rubio and Steph Korey never intended to become entrepreneurs. “When my suitcase broke at the airport, I called my well-traveled friends, and none of them could recommend any luggage brands,” says Rubio, chief brand officer of Away. Since then, the company has grown incredibly fast — which is both a victory and a big opportunity. Away launched in February 2016 with four people and today has more than 200. The company has sold over half a million suitcases while also rolling out a quarterly print and digital magazine called Here. After testing the waters with pop-ups and seeing how much people valued the in-store experience, the founders have opened several Away stores, including its first international location in London.
“Our goal for Away is to make the perfect version of everything people need to travel more seamlessly, while inspiring people around the world to do it more often,” says Korey, CEO, who previously worked at Warby Parker and consulted for Casper. In the short term, the duo will continue opening stores and expanding Away’s product line. “We’ve always said that luggage is just the beginning for us,” Korey notes. “We’ll continue to listen to what our community tells us about their pain points in the travel experience to determine what we do next.”
At Away, one of the core values is “Iterative,” which Korey interprets as, “we know we don’t know everything.” Rather, the founders celebrate failures as an example of an incredible learning opportunity. “We believe that making mistakes is one of our competitive advantages,” she says. “I want our team to feel comfortable talking about the things that we tried and what we learned, because I’m proud of the work that we’re doing, even when it doesn’t always go according to plan.”