Sometimes you spend years looking for the right idea. Sometimes the right idea falls into your lap. For Steph Korey, a blend of education and preparation would lead her to seize on a timely opportunity offered by a friend and former colleague.
As the founder of Away, a global lifestyle brand specializing in premium affordable luggage, Korey has helped to build a brand that seeks to solve problems for its clients. More than a corporate promise, Korey helped develop Away into one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, according to Fast Company, and she did so by keeping her word.
Before we delve into Away’s recent successes, let’s look to the past to see Korey’s path.
A Bad Day Becomes a Billion Dollar Idea
We all have nightmares and horror stories about traveling, particularly when we are forced to spend excess time at the airport. Talk to any frequent flyer and they will tell you that one of their biggest complaints is finding affordable luggage that actually provides longevity.
Steph was at home when she received a phone call from Jen Rubio, a former colleague, and professional brand marketer. Rubio had been enduring a prolonged travel day after her luggage snapped in transit, leaving her stranded with a busted case.
At the time, Korey’s friend didn’t know what to do. Steph Korey said in an interview with the team at Columbia Magazine, her alma mater, “She didn’t know whether to shell out a lot of money for high-quality luggage or to buy something else cheap that wouldn’t last.”
A short time later, the two were discussing what it would take to find an option that was as durable as it was affordable. In their ensuing search, Steph Korey would come up wanting more, and soon Away would be brought to life.
Putting In the Work to Succeed
Before launching Away, Korey and Rubio would pursue extensive research before deciding to bring anything to market. This ended up involving more than 800 interviews with individuals about how they traveled, their habits, and the largest hurdles that they had to overcome.
Throughout the process, interview subjects asked for durability, better zippers and wheels, and even a way to support charging their media devices. Rubio and Korey would take these ideas and combine them into a premium product at a solid price point. In the ensuing months and years, Away has grown to a valuation of more than $1.4 billion.
About Steph Korey
Prior to her work alongside Jen Rubio on Away, Steph Korey had established herself in the offices of Warby Parker by operating the supply chain for the affordable eyewear business. Korey would take those skills and the education she found on the job with her as she attended and graduated from Columbia with her MBA.
Outside of her work with Away and her time at Columbia, Korey was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2016 for the Retail and eCommerce categories.