We had the good fortune of connecting with Janesha “J KLUTCH” Washington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janesha, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
As a kid I always had big dreams of making an impact in my community and becoming successful. I remember in elementary school we had a discussion around goals. One of my goals was owning a few successful businesses. Being the ambitious person that I am, I knew early own that I was a businesswoman at heart. I always had a love for fashion and my dream has always been to give back to my community because it gave me so much. My mom was a single parent and she always made sure we (my siblings and I) were always fashionable.
When the late Nipsey Hussle was killed in March of 2019, it sparked back up a flame in me to build something powerful for generations to come. Also, Master P has preached heavy on creating sustainable products. That’s when I came up with the idea to start a clothing brand to be my first business. The name of my brand is “KLUTCH 21.” KLUTCH was a nickname I earned back when I played basketball and my jersey number (21) which is also the day I was born. I was always a klutch player both on and off the court. It was only right to build something that was true to me, would last for decades to come and something so impactful. “KLUTCH” is an acronym that stands for Knowledge Liberates Us To Conquer Hurdles. It’s a brand for the Ambitious Believers. I am also the CEO and founder of a nonprofit organization that was created to inspire, uplift and educate the youth called “KLUTCH Dreamz NFP.” This came about because I love pouring into the youth and shifting their mindsets to help make their dreams come true. I have done a few speaking engagements, sponsored a few basketball events and also some volunteer work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have worked in Corporate America for the largest Healthcare Organization in the world for 12+ years now. Through this career, I have been able to network and develop relationships with some very well-respected individuals. I have also developed skills that I was able to leverage inside my own business as well as earn my MBA, paid in full! This career has afforded me the opportunity to hold a Sr. Leadership position and it was not easy. I faced many challenges within this role and that particular department. I was able to overcome those challenges/hurdles by remaining true to who I was, not abuse my title, treat people with the respect they deserve and understand that anything worth having was not easy! Lessons I learned being in Sr. Leadership was that not everyone will like you and that is okay. Just continue striving to be better than you were the day before; that’s your only competition! I also learned the importance of relationships, keeping your appointments/meetings are key, staying organized and time management.
I want the world to know that KLUTCH is all about overcoming the impossible, being authentic and run your own race aka stay in your lane. My story wasn’t one of glitter and gold but one of hard work, dedication, consistency and determination. Persistence is how you get it; Consistency is how keep it. I also want the world to know that you can do and be anything that your heart desires. You just have to believe and have unshakeable faith that everything will work out in due time. Always remember, if you think it, you can achieve it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I’m from Chicago so if my best friend was visiting for a week, the first place I would take them is to a little mom and pop taco spot called Raymond’s Tacos. The food is cooked to order! We would take the train into downtown just to sightsee, take a pic next to the bean. Over the next couple of days we would eat at Oohh Wee It is, Legend’s Tasty House in Chinatown, Dave’s Red Hots, Soule Chicago, Chicago Chicken & Waffles, Al’s on Lake Street and Jew Town for the famous Chicago Polish. We would hang out at Navy Pier, the North Side, 6 Corners, Buckingham Fountain and just downtown Chicago in general. We would spend some time on the Lakefront especially if it’s the summertime!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First, I would love to give a shoutout to God for always coming through in the KLUTCH! I thank him for being who I need him to be in my life, leading and guiding me through this purpose he has placed on my life and ordering my steps. I would also love to give a huge shoutout to my village: My mom for bringing me into this world, developing me to be a strong woman and always believing in me; My wife for being a breath of fresh air that I needed, always being positive and my voice of reason; My sister and brother for always sticking by me through this journey and just teaching me who I needed to become early on in life. To all of my friends and supporters, I would love to thank you for the unwavering and continuous support! I have had a number of mentors and I greatly appreciate each and every one of them for their tough love, guidance and support that molded me to who I am today.
Erica Washington, Corine Barnes, Keith Sanders