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Industry Insider: Steph Korey

On paper, Steph Korey’s professional path looks pretty linear. Her résumé includes undergrad at Brown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School, along with successful runs at e-commerce phenoms Warby Parker and Casper. However the co-mastermind and co-founder of Away—the super-sleek and thoughtfully designed suitcase that is a modern traveler’s BFF—credits a series of fortuitous events, a carpe-diem attitude, and an unabashed inquisitiveness about the world with her brand’s runaway success. “The reason we were able to start Away was we were so thoroughly prepared with our past experiences,” she says. “I think in your career, the best thing you can do is seize the opportunities that come your way and make the most of them. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.” —Jennifer Henderson

Her style story: “When I was 14, I made a spreadsheet for my parents to try to convince them to pay for a $200 hair-straightening treatment. I calculated how many hours per week I spent blow-drying my hair straight and presented the R.O.I. of how many more hours I’d have to study and do homework if they made this ‘investment.’ I think they thought I was nuts—but they agreed to pay for it.”

Her work ethic: “I work really hard, but I love every second of it. I don’t have ‘work-life balance;’ I’m just always living my life the way I want to, which a lot of the time involves my work.”

Her turning point: “At Warby Parker, I had one of those moments where my very smart and accomplished boss left the company and very big shoes to fill and, overnight I was reporting to the C.E.O. This was a couple years out of undergrad, and I was very much figuring out what I was doing as I went along. I worked really hard and spent a couple of years building and leading the Supply Chain team.”

Her success secret: “Hard work, curiosity, and humility. No one is ever going to have all the answers themselves, but if you’re curious and humble, you can figure anything out.”

Her first-class baggage: “My Away co-founder, Jen, called me out the blue one day, mostly to complain about her broken suitcase and the lack of acceptable options to replace it. It turned into this long discussion about the industry, consumer experience, and how important travel is to us. One thing led to another, and suddenly we were interviewing hundreds of people on what would make a suitcase perfect. What we ended up with was this beautiful, minimal, lightweight, high-quality, smooth-rolling, indestructible, space-optimized, phone-charging, overhead-bin-size-approved suitcase.”

Her look: “Jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, sweaters—and everything I wear is black or navy or grey or white. I run around from meeting to meeting all day, so I dress to make that as easy as possible.”

Her must-haves: Everlane: There are a few items I love and I own about 17 of each them. Glossier: Every day I use the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moisturizer, Soothing Face Mist, Perfecting Skin Tint, Balm Dotcom, and Boy Brow in Clear. Soundcloud: My friend Clark (Coletrickle) makes these awesome playlists I listen to all the time. L’Artusi: I live a few blocks away from this West Village restaurant, and any time I’m going out to dinner, there’s a 50 percent chance that’s where I’ll end up. My iPhone: It’s basically an extension of my hand. Away: I don’t know what I did before our suitcase when traveling. Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant: We’re definitely forging our own path at Away, so it was helpful to read about how other founders before us chose to do things.”

Her inspiration: “Travel and people. As a brand, Away is heavily influenced by our own travel stories and those of our friends and customers.”

Her beauty: “Finding that perfect middle ground between not too much and not too little.”

Her social circle: “I read constantly. For blogs, I love Local Milk and Wit & Delight. Online I read Refinery29, Allure, Vogue, and Fast Company. And Forbes has a great podcast called Million$, about women entrepreneurs.”

Her must-sees: “I travel to Asia a lot for work, and always try to stop over in Hong Kong. You could go there a thousand times and still find new things to see and do.”

Her motto: “Read a lot, ask a lot, and have fun.”

Her future: “Our team has grown so quickly and we’re getting ready to move into a new office that actually fits us all. And my wedding is just around the corner, so I’m excited to head to Harbour Island for that and then, later this year, to Cape Town for my honeymoon.”