A phone call from a friend during her final weeks at Columbia planted the seed of an idea in Steph Korey. This friend and former associate had an issue that was common to travelers. She was at the airport with a broken suitcase. This serendipitous conversation ultimately led to the launch of Away, the manufacturer of inexpensive, quality luggage.
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Prior to business school at Columbia, Steph Korey managed the supply chain for Warby Parker, the company that made eyewear affordable. She handled logistics beginning with the acquisition of raw materials all the way to delivering the product to the consumer. The friend on the phone was Jen Rubio, a former associate of Steph and an experienced brand marketer.
Together, these two realized a common issue in the luggage industry. Two types of luggage existed at the time. Most people carried luggage of poor quality and construction because it was affordable. The rest carried luggage that was almost prohibitively expensive. This realization led the two women to found Away.
The company launched just three months after that phone call but that is not to say the launch was carelessly rushed. The two of them started off by interviewing hundreds of people to learn what were some of the worst issues in traveling. They discovered a couple of interesting things, like zippers and wheels are the most common things to break on luggage. They also learned, seemingly unrelated to luggage at all, that people often had trouble finding a place to charge their phones. Need led to innovation, and Away added a charging dock and battery to the luggage they sell.
Drawing on experience with her former employer, Steph Korey organized Away to do business completely online. This allows them to offer luxury-quality goods at affordable prices by eliminating the retailer markup.
Steph Korey’s leadership and business sense made Away a successful endeavor, providing peace of mind to conscientious travelers through affordable, quality luggage.