Cover Feature: Moving Black Forward, Charlisha Renata of Know Definition
She’s a movement all by herself, a landmark in the streetwear fashion world. Meet the designer behind Know Definition, and a Chicago-native that calls Memphis home, Charlisha Renata Jones. We’ll take you behind the scenes for an interview as we tap into her brilliance and inspiration to design streetwear inspired by black culture and pays homage to the ancestors.
Photo Credit: Isaiah Henderson
Life in the Overflow Magazine: Who is Charlisha Renata and tell us about your brand Know Definition and how did you come up with that name?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: My name is Charlisha Renata. I’m a multi-dimensional creative being that loves Black culture, Black folks, especially Black Women with experience in several facets of the fashion industry. My clothing brand, Know Definition, offers streetwear for Goddesses and Queens created to highlight everyday life from a black woman’s point of view. The name represents, “Know who you are. Define it with style.” It’s a showcase of self-discovery, self-love and Black culture through style.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: Out of all of your business endeavors, when was your aha moment, when you knew that you had found your niche’ in your brand Know Definition?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: I’ve done almost everything in fashion from modeling to photography to fashion marketing to sewing to designing to business. I believe I’ve been training for this business my entire life. When I was a teenager, my dream job was to be a hair stylist and own a salon with a boutique in the back. Where I grew up in the ‘90s, hair stylists were the most creative creatives. They were my example of creators of wearable art. I doodled fashions but felt being a designer was not attainable for me. After moving to Memphis and starting college, I was led to the fashion marketing degree program at The University of Memphis. I was already establishing myself as a local model and taking an interest in photography. It seemed like the perfect path for me. After doing some fashion business consulting work post graduation, I decided to teach myself how to sew for fun. I started a blog to document my personal sewing challenges. A piece I created was liked by my social media following enough for me to produce and sell it. I taught myself to screen-print, found apparel vendors, created a website, then pushed my design to market. I decided on streetwear because it’s my personal style of choice. It’s expressive yet casual. During this time, my love for creating wearable art swooshed back in and took over. That’s when I knew this is the path for me. Every skill I learned and talent I had aligned.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: How important is it for you to represent black culture in life and in business?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: Representing Black culture in my business is extremely important. One reason is because I love Black folks. Another reason it’s important to me is because I want Black women to feel comfortable celebrating our culture, living our truth, and defining our style every day. Know Definition aims to boost confidence and act as a channel to express self-love for individuals and love for the Black community.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: What are some upcoming things that we can look for from Know Definition?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: In 2022 and beyond, I will be doing more limited edition drops that explore my vision of design, fashion and culture in an artistic manner. This will include food, history, and popular themes of the past and present that make up this rich culture we have as Black folks in America. One design I’m working on that I’m excited about is watermelon themed. Due to the stigma that oppressors put on us (Black folks) joyfully eating watermelon, many folks look at it as a “ghetto” fruit. I’ve heard folks say they will not eat watermelon in public. It’s a shame because it was all by design. Not only is watermelon very healthy for you, it was also a cash crop for many Black sharecroppers. One watermelon produced about 100 seeds. Tell me that ain’t liberating.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: What inspires your streetwear and accessories?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: I’m inspired daily by Black culture, Black history, Black music (both present and music of the ancestors) for example, My daily work playlist consists of music created by black artists from early blues to civil rights movement to the present. I may start off my day with Robert Johnson and may end it with KenTheMan. I’m inspired by blaxploitation films, black history documentaries, black pop culture, & current events. I allow the spirits of my ancestors to flow through me then I transcend all that energy into a piece that I’m proud to wear everyday.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: What legacy projects or ideas are on your dream board?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: The legacy projects and ideas that are on my dream board are focused on acquiring a space in Memphis, TN that will be an apparel design and manufacturing location focusing on t-shirts and streetwear. I want to also offer custom apparel printing and a mentorship program for upcoming brands.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: What advice would you give to an aspiring streetwear designer; perhaps something you wish someone had told you?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: Be true to you. Build your brand on what you believe in and truly love. Don’t worry about trends. Be radical and it’s okay to not appeal to everyone and it’s definitely okay to not sell to everyone.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: As a designer, what do you want people to know about you?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: That this work I do is for all Black Women. I decided to focus on streetwear because I believe Black women are the epitome of today’s streetwear. We set the trends and the way Black women are able to flip whatever into the most coveted looks in fashion is magical. I want to honor that.
Life in the Overflow Magazine: What has been your greatest business accomplishment to date?
Charlisha Renata/Know Definition: My greatest accomplishment in business to date is pushing through adversary. Despite the negativity of others about what my brand represents, facing hatred head on and deciding to continue my journey, I established a brand that is loved for what I stand for and appreciate. Knowing that folks, my customers and supporters, are looking for what I offer keeps me going. They are the reason I see success.
For the latest streetwear from Know Definition shop online Know Definition