PITTSBURG, Kan. — For close to two years, Sydney Anselmi has been working to make her mark on the landscape of downtown Pittsburg as the owner of Audacious Boutique and an active community volunteer.
From running her own small business to volunteering with organizations like Pittsburg Area Young Professionals and Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority at Pittsburg State University, Anselmi has invested much of her time and energy into helping push Pittsburg into the future, which has earned her a slot from the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce as a 2020 Woman of Distinction.
“I’m not a native Pittsburg-ian,” Anselmi said. “But I do make every effort to engage with our community and to engage with the other retailers in the community.”
Originally from Carl Junction, Anselmi is no stranger to the southeast Kansas area and moved to Pittsburg in 2009 to get her bachelor's in communications— specifically broadcast journalism— from PSU.
Anselmi later continued her education again at PSU, getting a master’s in communications from the university, and even going on to work for PSU from 2017 until 2019 in a variety of roles including as a small business advisor and director of community engagement.
While Anselmi loved her time in the communications world, she has always had a passion for small business, having grown up around it since her parents were small business owners, as is her husband.
“I kind of knew that being your own boss was a cool thing to be from a very young age,” she says. “I think I’ve always wanted to do something in retail or a specialty store.”
So, when the opportunity came about in 2019 to become the owner of a local boutique, Audacious, Anselmi took the plunge.
“I’d developed relationships with other businesses around town and I knew that Audacious was thinking about selling,” she said, “and I had this thing one day where was I like ‘you know if someone else buys that business and I sit back and watch them do it, then I’m going to be super sad’ so I decided why not me.”
Anselmi took ownership of the store on April 1, 2019 and says it was the best decision she made and she loves being her own boss and a business owner.
“When you’re a small business owner you’re everything,” she says. “You’re IT, you’re the accountant, you’re the human resource manager, you’re the buyer, you’re the salesperson.”
She remembers her first days very fondly but says that her first couple years on the job have taught her a lot. In particular, having to get her business through the economic uncertainty of 2020.
“We’ve done a lot of live sales and tried to be really intentional about engaging with customers via social media,” she says. “We even set up a texting number for our phone to be able to text and interact with customers to just kind of meet them where they’re at to kind of keep generating sales.”
But Anselmi is never one to back down from a challenge and met all 2020 threw at her and Audacious head on. Anselmi says one of her major goals when she took over the business was to get the store online, and while the website and online store were in the works prior to the pandemic, she says that COVID-19 forced her and her employees to move up their timeline and jump into the online world.
“It was something I kind of wanted to ease into, but instead it was like a snowball smack to the face,” she said. “We went ahead and jumped into it.”
Despite the uncertainty of last year, Anselmi says that overall, 2020 was a good year for her business, and she says she is honored to cap off the year by being recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It was a big shock,” Anselmi said. “Obviously it always feels good to be validated and to know that the work you’re doing is seen by others. It’s kind of an affirmation that you are making an impact, and I think this year especially to be named a Woman of Distinction in a year where things have been so haywire, it's very humbling.”
Anselmi says awards like these are important because they showcase what people are doing in the community and gives Pittsburg a chance to tell its story.
“I think it's not only a good way to recognize people in our community who are making a difference and going above and beyond, but it's also a good way for Pittsburg to tell its story,” she says. “And it shows that we value women in business, women in our community and efforts and the things they are doing.”