Start-up AWAY, a luggage company based in New York, was begun in 2015 by CEO Steph Korey and Jen Rubio. Their product is simple: a slick, stylish, well-made suitcase. And their range is simpler: four sizes of said suitcase.
They started out with an initial seed investment of $2.5million. In the two years since, they have raised a total of $31million, and sold over 200,000 suitcases. They have become inseparable accessories from the likes of Jessica Alba, Suki Waterhouse and Margot Robbie, and they have been called by People “the little black dress of luggage”.
So, in such an oversaturated market, how have they risen so quickly? Well, the answer is twofold. The first: designing a thoughtful, practical, yet simply chic product.
“A couple of years ago, I was at the airport and my luggage completely fell apart while travelling,” Rubio says. “I asked around for recommendations to replace it and no one could suggest a better option.” So Rubio and Korey decided to make one. They spoke to over 800 travel enthusiasts to narrow down what people wanted. They went through twenty iterations of the wheel alone before they found the perfect action. They found a material that you can throw a bowling ball at without a scratch. And they put in a phone charger because of another story of Rubio’s about being stranded at an airport with no battery.
Which brings us to the second secret behind Away’s success: Storytelling. The broken luggage, the 800 interviews, the bowling ball – these stories pop up over and over again, and they reiterate that this is more than selling luggage, this is about making every trip the best it can be. That’s why their marketing and content is about “the spirit of great travel”. Their amazing Instagram account has 176k followers. They have a magazine, Here, and a podcast, Airplane Mode, and the articles and the pictures and the stories are not about suitcases, they are about travel. The joy of travel.
Away doesn’t sell suitcases, they sell emotions, aspirations and inspiration. They sell you a postcard. A picture of yourself on the holiday of your dreams. The sun is shining, the scenery is spectacular, you are wearing a smile and standing tall, relaxed and at ease. And if an Away suitcase happens to be in the corner of the picture, well, all the better.
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Picture credit: © AWAY