PITTSBURG — Two Pittsburg State University students have teamed up to launch their own business this fall.

Senior Brittan Brenner and Freshman Kailey Pearson will use $5,000 they won in the recent Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge to create and run Sonder and Company, a boutique-style store-front showcasing and selling area artisans’ work.

“I’m really excited for students to see the community investing in them,” Brenner said. “The Pittsburg community does a great job investing in the university, but sometimes it’s hard for students to tangibly see that — so I think that by students being artisans in our store and by people coming in to buy their goods, they will tangibly see how willing our community is to invest in the students who come to Pittsburg.”

Set to open alongside the Block 22 apartments in August, the store is tentatively planned for fourth street on the ground level of the commerce building. The students say they will use skills acquired through their degree programs — Pearson in graphic design and Brenner in public relations.

“I think this is going to render some place attachment in students, so when they graduate, they won’t necessarily want to leave because they love this community,” Brenner said.

Having designed T-shirts for years, Pearson has tried to make money off of her work through sites such as Etsy.com.

“Kailey is a student and has a hard time going to school and having a full-time job, so this is a way to supplement that income,” Brenner said. “Hopefully, this is the most broke we’ll ever be in our lives.”

As Wichita natives, the students said this project came from their appreciation for localism.

“When I moved to Pittsburg I realized there was not really an outlet for that market, but there are a lot of other students and community members who feel the same way and have really awesome products,” Pearson said. “We know Pittsburg is growing so we want to take advantage of that and bring that little aspect to the community to not only give artisans an outlet, but also have events that unite the community members and students.”

The freshman emphasized how the store will accept a variety of creations, from beef jerky to children’s books.

“I think the community has shown a lot of awesome support, and I was one of the first people to sign up for Block 22, so I share that excitement,” Pearson said. “I think we’ve received some really excellent feedback and a lot of people are expecting it, so I think we really have to bring it in the fall.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.