On my recent vacation to Italy, I played a little game: Whenever I was passing time, drinking a macchiato at a café or resting my feet after a day at a museum, I tried to spot luggage made by Away, a brand that launched just two and half years back.
It didn’t take long–they were everywhere. The wheeled hard-shell suitcases have rounded edges and horizontal grooves and come in some eye-popping colors. In Verona, I noticed an elderly gentleman pulling a dark green one. In Florence, tourists had black, white, red, and yellow Away cases in tow. Back home, the Atlanta airport had so many that I lost count. And even in my local Tallahassee, Florida, airport, I noticed a young woman wheeling a blush pink Away cheerfully covered in stickers of hearts and dogs.
Given that Away didn’t even exist before 2015, the results of my surveying mission were impressive. The 30-year-old founders behind the brand, Steph Korey and Jen Rubio, met as coworkers at Warby Parker, where Korey ran the supply chain and Rubio was head of social media. They quickly bonded over their mutual love of travel and their struggle to find an affordable suitcase that didn’t easily fall apart.