Civic pride continues to pay off for Kansas City-stitched Charlie Hustle, winner of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Mr. K Small Business of the Year Award.
Chase McAnulty, founder and CEO, accepted the coveted award Thursday afternoon during a KC Chamber-hosted luncheon — a successful end to the vintage-inspired apparel company’s third run at the prestigious award, named in honor of local entrepreneurial icon Ewing Marion Kauffman.
Click here to explore Charlie Hustle’s online apparel site.
“I wanted this,” McAnulty said, choking up as he recalled the work that built the 10-year-old business and the influential people who’ve helped him and the company achieve such an honor.
“There’s a couple women that have had a pretty strong impact on me as a man, as a husband, as a young leader,” he said. “My mom … she’s the one who said, ‘It’s OK to chase your dreams, to take a different path, to do what you want to do.’”
“She’s been an angel for the past seven years, looking down on us. But she got to see us build. She got to see me grow — and she’s still pulling levers every day, making things happen.”
“The other one is my wife. … I appreciate her so much. She started out as a friend that really helped me, believed in me, gave me the confidence I needed to build — and loved it so much that she moved back to Kansas City to help me grow it,” he continued.
“She spent long hours, trusted me, was somebody I could confide in. These two women gave me my values — values that have molded me and values that I have been able to carry forward into our business.”
Check out a brief gallery from the Chamber’s Small Business Celebration below, then keep reading.
Finalists for the award were announced in May, and included Love to Smile Dentistry, Menufy, Chicken N Pickle, Parrish & Sons Construction, Swell Spark, Crux, Midwest Recovery Centers, Hartline Construction, and Artisan Technology Group, in addition to Charlie Hustle.
“Charlie Hustle stood out this year for its commitment to giving back to the community, focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, supporting employees during COVID, and the growth the company experienced despite the pandemic,” the chamber said in announcement of the honor.
Click here to read more about Stonewall Sports KC, a sports league for LGBTQ+ athletes and allies, one of the organizations that benefits from Charlie Hustle’s community partnerships.
As he celebrated the win with the Mr. K award raised high into the air, McAnulty was quick to acknowledge his peers in the running for the award and the value each of their companies brings to Kansas City — whether or not they’re as well known or visible as the heart-shaped retailer — known for its popular KC Heart T-shirt that has become a symbol of the Kansas City region.
“Enjoy the climb,” he said simply, specifically addressing the other nine companies and recalling the privileges he and Charlie Hustle have had the opportunity to experience over the past decade.
“Think about where you’re at and what got you here. You’ve always got to think about where you’re going … but be grateful and appreciate where you are right now. And right now you’re winners here in this room,” McAnulty added.
“If there is anything this world has taught us over the past year it’s that we are truly in this world together. But it’s up to us to take action. It’s up to us to be better than where we were at. Our society cannot truly flourish until the inherent worth of all individuals [is] valued. So let’s move forward and pay a little bit more attention to what connects us rather than what divides us.”
The Thursday luncheon also saw four additional award winners named:
- The KC Chamber Legacy of Kansas City Award: Sunlighten
- The KC Chamber Emerging Business Award: The Market Base
- The KC Chamber Small Business Equity Award: The Next Paige Agency
- The KC Chamber Weida Award for International Small Business of the Year: Sunlighten
Click here to learn more about the months-long Small Business Celebration hosted by the KC Chamber.