Away is partnering with Empire State Development to grow its business.
Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency. It encourages the growth of private businesses through loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance.
Away’s expansion includes the relocation of its headquarters to 82 Mercer Street, a 56,000-square-foot space, from it current site at 419 Lafayette Street. The travel firm will also create 249 new jobs over the next five years across product, customer experience, creative and editorial positions. Empire State Development is encouraging Away’s expansion by providing the start-up with $4 million in performance-based tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program. Under the terms of the arrangement, Away has to create 249 jobs over an initial five-year period and then maintain the headcount in years six through 10 to receive the tax credits.
Away began operations in 2016 with just four employees. It now has more than 150 on its staff. The product line has expanded from a carry-on to include checked luggage, and more recently a duffel-like everywhere bag, garment bag, backpack, packing cubes and a Dopp kit.
The brand was started by Stephanie Korey and Jen Rubio, two former Warby Parker executives. So far the company has raised $31 million.
Away reached out to Empire State Development and once admitted into the program, began work to secure its new office space.
Korey said, “As we were thinking about the rate [at which] the business is growing, and will continue to grow over the coming years, we began thinking about where do we want to plant our roots. We love being in New York and now will continue to have our permanent home in New York.”
Last year, Away launched Here, its digital and print magazine. According to Korey, the travel content is designed to “inspire people to see more places and expand their horizons.”
Other initiatives for the firm include opening more stores and international expansion.
The company has four stores, one each in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin, Tex. It plans to open six more this year. “We’re testing some new formats. One store that will open shortly is an airport store in Chicago’s O’Hare,” Korey said.
Away recently expanded overseas and to support that end of the operation, it is in the process of building out its team there, as well as opening a fulfillment center.