Away suitcase
Courtesy of Away


Easing travel’s tribulations

When Steph Korey and Jen Rubio started doing market research for Away, their e-commerce luggage startup, they asked people to name their biggest traveling peeve, whether or not it had anything to do with suitcases. There’s nothing you can do about this, was the frequent response, but my phone is always dying before I can get to a charging station. So Away built a USB charging port into its first product, a distinctive-looking, smartly designed hard-sided carryon that became an instant hit. (When new regulations prohibited lithium batteries in checked bags, Away made them ejectable.) Two and a half years later, the company has sold more than half a million suitcases, employs more than 200 people and has expanded to more than 20 countries, including retail stores in the U.S. and Europe. They’ve rolled out unique looks, from collaborations with fashion designers to Star Wars and Despicable Me models. In a product category that had seen few innovations since the rolling bag, their creation has gained cult-level appeal for road warriors: a major sales engine is fans’ loving Instagrams of their suitcases. The founders, who came from hipster eyeglasses company Warby Parker, continue to see their status as luggage-industry outsiders as an advantage. Their mission, as they expand into backpacks and accessories, isn’t just to build a better suitcase—it’s to change the way you travel. “Luggage is just the beginning,” says Korey. —Molly Ball

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