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“One challenge after the other, tattoo artist Early refuses to keep the doors shut on her dreams” 

By Kara N. Thorpe, BE Assoc. Editor 

         During a time when most small businesses have had to unfortunately close their doors, Rebekkah Early has decided to persevere and face the challenges of today head on to open her new business; Red River Tattoo Company LLC on Main Street. Raised in Lee County, Rebekkah is a former piercer and tattoo artist of Asylum Tattoo and of Hot Rod Charlie’s Tattoo and Body Piercings of Northern Kentucky.  “I was eighteen when I wanted to start tattooing and it never happened. I was in my first year as a piercer at Asylum Tattoo in Cincinnati when the owner asked me to apprentice in 2017. I tattooed a skeletal hand holding a candle as the first tattoo I did at age thirty three.” Stated Rebekkah. 

       Along with herself, Rebekkah’s brother Jonathan Ratliff is currently practicing at Red River Tattoo as an apprentice. Rebekkah stated that she believes he is definitely ready however, to make the transition from apprentice to professional tattooist. Jonathan, husband to Tiffany Thacker Ratliff and father to three, is also an Art Ed major who formerly worked at Indian Motorcycles as their Sales Manager before deciding to pursue tattooing back in his hometown. Aside from his time at the shop, Jonathan also enjoys music, art and grilling/meat smoking. 

      According to Rebekkah’s recent interview with WKYT, she was in the middle of renovating the shop and preparing to open when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit earlier this year. Then when Red River Tattoo was finally ready to complete their inspections and receive their license, it was then that all tattoo parlors along with salons and barber shops were forced to close for an indefinite amount of time. Amongst all the challenges any business owner, new or old, may be facing with the ongoing pandemic, Rebekkah has also had to overcome the obstacles of being a female tattoo artist in a commonly male dominated profession. Rebekkah and Jonathan both agreed that there should be more support based groups and resources geared towards the success of female business owners in general. Rebekkah’s advice for any female who wishes to pursue a profession or career centered mainly around the opposite sex, is to do what you want, continue to fight for what you want and ignore the negativity and criticism because everyone has to start from the bottom before they are successful. She also stated that most individuals who struggle to find success, usually end up excelling due to the fact that they have had to earn their credibility and respect in order to realize that nothing is ever handed to them. 

         When asked what their opinion or advice was on encouraging more business on Main Street, Rebekkah and Jonathan stated that a community must be open to new ideas and a business needs support not just when they open but afterwards  in order for it to become a long term residency of business. Rebekkah also stated that Main St. Manager Teresa Mays has been of great help to her in any way possible during the past few weeks. 

      Although tattooing is her main focus, Rebekkah is a woman of many talents and interests including DJing for the LBGT community at Drag Shows, drawing, fishing, motorcycles, World of Warcraft, nature walks and also handcrafting stunning, miniature houses out of cardboard and other commonly found materials. 

        Upon first impressions of Rebekkah and the other employees/artists at Red River Tattoo, it is undoubted that she takes her professionalism and business seriously. Tattoo and piercing parlors must abide by a high level of cleanliness at all times, not only during a pandemic, and Rebekkah has (with great effort) put the safety and health of her customers along with her fellow workers, first. Rebekkah is highly knowledgeable and concerned with the comfort and satisfaction of her clients when it comes to placement, sizing, pain level, aftercare and longterm appearance of her work all while maintaining a friendly, welcoming and non judgmental experience. Clients can admire Rebekkah’s eclectic decor and style making the shop an interesting yet relaxing environment. Although Rebekkah is currently not offering piercings yet, she still has many unique pieces of body jewelry for purchase in her display case. 

     Red River Tattoo Company is located at 290 Main Street in Beattyville directly across from the Post Office in the former Art Factory location. Aside from Rebekkah and Jonathan, receptionist Samantha Keller is also available at the shop to assist with appointments and consultations. Shop Manager Anthony Saat is also apart of Red River Tattoo to handle supply, orders, etc. and as Rebekkah stated, “keeping her sane”. 

         Walk ins are welcomed Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 8pm. Rebekkah is seen only through appointments on Sundays and Mondays. To schedule an appointment or for more information, individuals may call (606) 919-1231. You can follow Red River Tattoo Company LLC on Facebook to see photos of their work and also find out how to participate in their current drawing for a free tattoo equivalent to $100 or $100 off of a tattoo of greater value as a thank you for reaching over five hundred likes. We wish Rebekkah and everyone at Red River Tattoo Company the best of success and look forward to seeing them serve the Lee County area. As always, support your local businesses and artists.

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