In 2015, Jen Rubio was traveling back from a trip to Switzerland when her luggage broke in the middle of a crowded airport, sending her clothes and belongings everywhere. As she looked for a replacement she couldn’t find the kind of iconic, high-quality, affordable luggage she was looking for.
Jen called up her friend Steph Korey – the two met in 2011 at Warby Parker back when they had only twenty employees – and they got to work. Just a few years later, they launched their direct-to-consumer luggage company, Away, in 2015. It boasts high end features such as two built-in USB ports and a durable, sleek design but is a fraction of the price of competing luggage.
The Away team now has more than 100 employees and tens of millions in revenue. They have expanded their product line, which now offers the bag in six sizes and eight colors and have partnered with people like Gray Malin and Karlie Kloss. In their conversation, Jen and Monica talk about how Away launched without a product, the way they handle collaborations, and why the retail and digital arms of the business aren’t so different after all.
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“More than anything we believe in making travel more seamless and more enjoyable.” – Jen Rubio
- What the Away brand is like
- How they created a viral feeling
- How they launched and grew quickly
- The way Away used influencers early on
- How the collection has changed since launch
- Where the idea for collaborations came from
- What the manufacturing timeline is like for suitcases
- Away’s outlook on brick and mortar stores
- How the digital and retail sides of the business balance each other
- What works for another company might not work for you
- The importance of context in decision making
- What Jen wishes she’d known going into her business
“We couldn’t launch a piece of luggage that hadn’t been rigorously tested, that we hadn’t prototyped. that we hadn’t put through the ringer, and try it out on our customers.” – Jen Rubio
“We realized there was a real need and a real desire from our customers to interact with us offline.” – Jen Rubio