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Mark Chou

Mark has worked in fashion, finance, and photography for a decade, and currently serves as Head of Digital Marketing and E-Commerce at Away. When he’s not traveling or shooting his Nikon FG, he’s working to build the most impressive luggage brand the world has ever seen.

Photography by Mat Rick @matrickphotos

Few industries change as fast as fashion, and arguably, few as slow as aviation. What drew you into this cross-section of industries, and what keeps you excited about it?

When I left the finance world, the fashion world (and e-commerce in particular) piqued my interest the most. I joined Ralph Lauren Digital in an e-commerce strategy role, but quickly found that I didn’t enjoy the big corporate environment. It’s startups like Away, where I am now, that excite me the most because they’re trying to approach old problems in new ways. In our case, we’re offering beautifully designed luggage at an affordable price point – a fraction of what other luxury manufacturers can offer because we’re direct-to-consumer only. For me, it’s so amazing to see how the internet has made it possible to reach consumers directly, in a way that would have been impossible to do just 20 years ago.

Away is a pretty small (and pretty new) company. Any tips for those looking to break away from a large corporation and find a smaller crew to work with?

I would say that one of the most important things is to make sure you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches. At startups, you’ll find CEOs taking out the trash and department heads manually fulfilling orders when there’s a hiccup at the warehouse. Go in with the expectation that you’ll definitely be wearing multiple hats.


You’re a photographer – what’s the best or most interesting client/project you’ve shot to date?

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and while I was home for the holidays this past year, I discovered a homegrown company called Aviate making stylish caps themed around airport codes. I thought it was a really creative take on hometown affiliations and ended up working with Aviate to shoot some social content for them

Away has proven that even highly established industries can be improved; where do you hope Away is able to make the most impact in the travel sector?

At the end of the day, our goal at Away is to make travel more pleasurable and to inspire people to travel more as a result. Carry-ons are a constant companion for folks on the go, and from our perspective, there was no better starting point than to create the perfect carry-on.

Where can we find you when you aren’t working? What keeps your soul refreshed?

In all likelihood, you’ll find me eating. The Away office is at the intersection of Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown, so there’s never any lack of great food. I’m also spending more time on film photography these days – it’s a bit pricier than shooting digital, but the result is that I’m forced to shoot with more discipline. And now that the weather is finally warming up in New York City, you’ll also find me riding my bike in Central Park or along the Hudson River – gotta burn those calories somehow!

What’s the future of luggage look like, and why should the masses take notice?

The future of luggage will be all about making the experience of travel more seamless. Part of that will be through technological innovation, sure, but a lot of it boils down to doing your research and making sure you’re actually listening to the gripes of travelers. Marketing is important, but I think products also speak for themselves – people will take notice if you create something that really does make their lives easier.

What’s ahead for you? Staying in fashion? Dipping back into finance?

My career has been a bit of an iterative process, as I’ve slowly figured out what excites and challenges me most. I really love how marketing combines both “left brain” analysis and “right brain” creativity into one discipline, and creating beautiful consumer products is something I find very exciting. I hope to help build Away from a small, seed-funded startup into a leader in the world of travel.

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Give us a peek into your bucket list. What are a few places you want to visit or personal goals you’re striving for?

My wife Mara and I have a long bucket list that we hope to make some progress on this year. We’d love to visit Patagonia sometime soon, and the Amalfi Coast is also on the list. Closer to home, I’d love to backpack Glacier National Park in Montana one day – I feel like it’s one of the few places that might match Yosemite.

What’s your impression of your Wool&Prince shirts?

Wool&Prince has completely changed how I think about woolen products. Whether it’s button-downs or tees, Wool&Prince’s clothing is incredibly comfortable and not the slightest bit scratchy. Also, the fit of my shirts is slim, which I really appreciate. As someone with an athletic build, I often find that shirts that fit me in the chest have simply way too much fabric in the waist – something I never have to worry about with W&P.

Mark is 5'8", 145 lbs, and wears a size XS button-down and SM in the tees and short sleeve button-down.


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