Brittan Brenner is a through-and-through Wichitonian, having grown up there. But she considers Pittsburg “home.”

“Just the way this community has invested in me, I can’t think of any place I’d rather go and be a young professional,” she said.

So, the Pittsburg State senior in communication decided to stay put and open a business with her best friend, Kailey Pearson — a sophomore in graphic design who also is a Wichita native — in the heart of downtown Pittsburg.

They were inspired by recent economic growth and Block22; Pearson was the first resident in line to sign a contract to live there.

For investment capital, they’ve used $5,000 they won in the recent Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge as the first team to ever represent Pittsburg State. To create and run it, they’re using skills they used in their degree programs — Pearson in graphic design and Brenner in public relations.

Called Sonder & Co., and located on the ground level of the Commerce Building, it will be a boutique-style store showcasing and selling the works of area artisans — especially students.

“We talk a lot about place attachment, and about identifying problems in our community and how to fix them,” Brenner said. “We wanted our brand to really embody what Pittsburg is. We want our fellow students at Pitt State to have a place attachment so when they graduate, they won’t take the lessons and skills they learned in our city limits to other places. They’ll use them here.”

Pearson agreed.

“It’s proven that if people have pride in where they’re at, and others have pride in them and what they’re doing, they’ll want to stick around,” she said.

The two say they know many students who make “amazing goods,” but don’t have the time or resources to market it themselves nor coordinate shipping. Sonder & Co. will offer them a 60/40 profit split, while community artists may sell their work at the store by paying a $40 monthly fee and their profit split is 70/30.

“Beyond the community engagement, we both see it as  propelling into a career,” Brenner said. “It’s a way to continue to be part of the student community while establishing myself as a young professional. When we graduate, we’ll have options: we’ll have artisans who have a large stake in it by then and we could transfer ownership if we wanted to, and we’ve also set it up so it can be easily replicated in other communities, like a franchise.”