Away is quickly becoming as well known for its simple, stylish suitcases (a favorite of the Instagram influencer set) as it is for its creative product collaborations with unlikely brand partners, which have included everyone from the NBA to Despicable Me 3. The latest, a collaboration with Kode With Klossy, the coding camp initiative founded by supermodel Karlie Kloss, speaks to something that's important to Kloss and Away's female founders, Steph Korey and Jen Rubio: Paying their successes forward to the next generation of women working in the start-up space.
Since Away launched a little over two years ago, it's done for the luggage industry what Warby Parker did for eyewear and Casper did for mattresses: Disrupted a seemingly stale product market dominated by big sellers with a cool, start-up mindset and strong social media presence. The company focused on a simple objective: Create a less expensive carry-on ($225) with all the essentials the modern traveler really wants. These needs, determined through dozens of focus groups, include a build in laundry bag and small tech add-ons such as a built-in charger on top of the case. Their thinking was spot-on: In 2016, its first year of sales, Away banked $12 million and by June of last year, it had already quadrupled that number.
The limited edition Kode With Klossy collaboration includes two fresh takes on the classic case: This time, a mossy-green "Gigabyte" and gray-purple "Pixel." Also included are two, brand new products designed in collaboration with Kloss: A "Cube Case" for organizing charging cables and a backpack with a laptop sleeve. The partnership is unique because a portion of the sales will go towards supporting scholarship funding for the 1,000 girls, ages 13 to 18, who will take part in Kode With Klossy summer camps. This year, the program is expanding significantly to include 50 camps in 25 cities, up from 15 camps in 12 cities in 2017.
The Away collaboration came about as a result of mutual admiration between the two business's female founders. "I met Jen [Rubio] and heard her speak about Away’s unique approach to product design, as well as her broader vision to change travel, which was an inspiring moment," Kloss told Refinery29. "Partnering with a female-led company that is using tech to innovate an industry seemed like a natural fit."
What resonates with Rubio is the fact that Kloss "became famous for one thing, but then used that as a platform to have more of an impact and bring about positive change." In this case, empowering women to become interested and involved in coding. "As cofounders of such a quickly growing company we've found ourselves as two examples of what’s possible when women are given the power to lead," she added.
Kloss, who founded her summer camps in 2015, after taking coding classes to challenge herself and becoming aware of the underrepresentation of women in the industry, hopes the girls who take part will become leaders themselves. Among her own tech role models, she cites Melinda Gates, Megan Smith, the former U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Karla Monterroso, the founder of Code 2040, and Erica Baker, the Patreon engineering manager who brought issues of gender pay equality into the public eye.
To Kloss, all four women share one thing in common: "[They're] working to raise up underrepresented voices and build tech solutions that consider all of us." With the Away collaboration helping to fund Kode With Klossy's endeavors, the hope is that more underrepresented voices will be exposed to a world of gigabytes and pixels — the real kind, that is.