Steph Korey Blends Innovation With Affordability

What Warby Parker did to mattresses, Steph Korey aims to do with her work at Away, the global lifestyle brand that she launched in 2015.

Steph Korey is the founder of Away and one of the biggest entrepreneurs of her generation, creating a company out of a single conversation with a friend regarding low-quality luggage.

What began as a casual phone call would soon lead to the founding of Away and its more than $1 billion valuation.

Let’s rewind the clock to see how Steph Korey and her team turned luggage into a lifestyle brand.

A Background For Success

Long before Korey established Away and guided the company to its current precipice, she had been working at the eyewear startup Warby Parker by coordinating logistics for their supply chain. This experience was foundational in preparing Steph for her later work as a leader at Away.

Outside of her work in the field, Steph Korey prioritized education during her ascent to the workforce. Korey would attend and graduate from Brown University with a B.A. in International Relations before attending Columbia Business School for her MBA.

It was during this time in her life that Korey began to dream of bigger things and a call from Jen Rubio would help to accelerate that.

Making Something Different

When Steph Korey received a phone call from her friend Jen, she was instantly greeted with common yet unfortunate news. Jen’s suitcase broke during transportation. A common problem for travelers everywhere, Jen and Korey asked each other why there wasn’t premium luxury luggage at an unaffordable rate for frequent travelers.

The conversation between Jen and Korey would eventually segue into a business idea and the corresponding launch of Away. Taking their cues from Casper Mattresses or Warby Parker, where Jen and Korey had both worked prior, they would focus on high-quality materials and manufacturers to invest in. By selling their products online, Korey was able to get Away’s price down to a reasonable rate, roughly $225 to $295 depending on the size.

The features included in the Away product line showcase premium protective materials, lightweight construction, and even built-in charging ports for mobile devices. Korey said of that decision, “The most annoying thing about traveling is that my phone is always dead. So we did something about it.”

Without any physical brick-and-mortar stores, Korey was able to cut down on pricing to reach even more shoppers.

Away would earn more than $2.5 million in its original seeded round before officially launching in time for the holiday season of 2015. While Korey and Rubio probably aren’t going to have any new launches finalized in the immediate future, they do have their eyes on some big things. Korey said in an interview with Columbia Magazine, “We definitely have a lot up our sleeves.”