Listen: How I Built This talks Away Luggage


I’m always interested in learning about brands and how they are built, so naturally, when I discovered the ‘How I built this with Guy Raz’ podcast I was hooked. My interest peaked, even more, when the AWAY: Jen Rubio podcast hit my feed. It did not disappoint.

The team at Soft Serve Studio have had a pretty active interest in luggage for about a decade, we have designed and developed a number of pieces for global brands and have even won an award or two. So you can imagine our fascination watching the market being disrupted, first by Bluesmart and then by companies like AWAY and JULY. So I was excited to hear the behind the scenes details of how this happened. It’s worth listening to the full episode but this is what I took away from the podcast.

Away Co-Founders Jen Rubio & Steph Korey - Photo  Masha Maltsava

Away Co-Founders Jen Rubio & Steph Korey - Photo Masha Maltsava

Having curiosity, Jen Rubio didn’t look at the luggage market and think this is too big to disrupt. She looked at her product and thought this can be improved. This disrupted the market later because her ideas were innovative.

Knowing who your first customers are. You need to be able to talk to your first customers in their language. For Away it was on the internet via strong imagery.

Importance of a good story. Jen Rubio realised that selling luggage is not just about the features and benefits of the actual product. It’s a means to an end of getting you to where you want to go. Luggage is about TRAVEL and travel is about memories. Jen Rubio sold her brand to people who love to travel.

Knowing what you are good at. Launching a business is a combination of grit, skill and luck. You need to take advantage of the skills you have in the business and outsource the skills you do not have to make sure that you minimise the weak areas of your business.

Funding. It is extremely important that you can fund your business. AWAY sought our venture capital funding early in the process as they recognised that having a strong product and marketing story was crucial to the success of the brand. This doesn’t mean that you spend money in areas that are unnecessary (Jen slept on her co-founder's couch while the brand was launching) but it means you use money as a tool to maximise strengths and minimise risks.

Listen for yourself here