Change The Way You Travel and Get Away
ALL IMAGES + GIFS COURTESY OF AWAY
When it comes to traveling, we all want it to be just a little bit easier. With the restrictions put on baggage over the past decade, we also need the perfect piece of luggage to tote around. Enter Away Luggage, the brainchild of Steph Korey and Jen Rubio—an affordable luggage line with all of the bells and whistles. They pride themselves on having the ultimate piece for “modern travelers” from beautifully curated compartments to perfectly placed USB ports. We spoke to Emma Bates, the Head of Global Marketing and Operations, to learn a little bit more about our favorite new travel product.
Change The Way You Travel and Get Away
Travel meets design, finally.
What inspired you to start Away?
It basically started when Jen was travelling and her suitcase broke—she started asking a friends, ‘What suitcase do you have? Where do you buy your suitcases?’ and her answers essentially were either a $1000 Tumi bag or a really bad quality one that was picked up at an airport that would probably break again. She had contacted tons of friends, one of which was Beth who she worked with at Warby Parker. With their combined experience in a direct to consumer business model, they began talking to hundreds of people and doing market research on suitcases.
Have they ever talked to you about the elements that they brought over from Warby Parker to create this brand?
I’d say it was about taking this business model that had been used by Warby and a range of other companies, and using it to make sure that every customer could have a suitcase that was reasonably priced—all while harvesting the fact that that hadn’t been happening in the industry. So obviously the business model is a similar model to that of Warby, but I wouldn’t say that was a copy of such, more like taking the idea and taking it into a different industry that needed rejuvenating.
And Emma, where were you before you joined Away?
I consulted for a number of different start-ups in London and New York ranging from fashion to technology. I started a blog while I was at university in London—I was studying a very academic degree and became fascinated by these start-ups that had such quick growth and was really interested by the marketing behind them. So I started going into these companies and seeing what I could offer from growing my own personal community and translating that into brand growth at the same time, so that’s what I was doing beforehand!
For you personally, what’s the best part of working in that start-up environment?
I think really just the opportunity, the fast pace, and the fact that if you can execute an idea and come up with an idea, and really prove and explain why your idea is worth it—you can truly carry that out and be as creative as possible. We have a saying that we have to come up with the wildest idea we can think of, and then tone it back to something that’s actually doable. I personally find that I really thrive working in that type of an environment, and I love working with people that are like-minded.
Who’s your ideal customer?
That is a good question. Jen and Steph started the company with the idea of the modern traveler in mind, meaning someone that may travel on a bi-weekly basis or a monthly basis, who travels for work and also for pleasure, and they don’t want the hassle of their luggage or any travel item getting in their way—the modern traveler. We also have people outside of that, but it’s that type of person who’s the uber traveler basically—the person that’s always on the go whether that be for work or play.
One of our favorite on-the-go features of the bags is the USB component. Do you have to charge the actual bag to make it work?
So, there’s a battery that’s been built into the suitcase and you can access it under the handle. There’s actually two USB ports. The battery is huge, not in terms of size, but in terms of charge, you can charge your phone 5-6 times from 0%-100%. The way you charge the bag, we provide a USB cable that plugs into the wall like you’d charge any other device. We recommend charging it overnight before your trip just so you have the full capacity and you’re good to go.
The battery retains the charge, so I’ve been on multiple trips within the past 8 months and have only charged my bag twice.
In terms of expansion for Away, what’s up next?
In terms of the brand marketing side of things which I work on, you’ll be seeing lots of exciting partnerships coming up. We recently launched two product collaborations, one with Charity: Water and the other with Pop & Suki. We created a pale pink suitcase with Pop & Suki and for Charity: Water we created a suitcase where $30 from each purchase went to funding one person and giving them clean water for the rest of their life, which was launched on World Water Day. We have lots of exciting partnerships in the works and there’s a lot coming up this year!