Clutch MOV is proud to sponsor this year’s Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. We envision a community where citizens can take risks on the promise that success would uplift the residents of our valley. Artists, creators, makers, and small business owners strive to build something anew, something worth putting their stamp on – to promote and share with each other – and entrepreneurs are on the edge, finding ways to build in a way that hasn’t been done before. This year we received dozens of nominations for innovative, forward-thinking, community-building entrepreneurs from the Mid-Ohio Valley. The panel believed six individuals stood out for the impact they are making through their work. We are sharing their stories in this series.

Chase Chovan had always wanted to open his own business. From an early age, he dreamed of someday owning a record store. Then he discovered the art of tattooing.

A graduate of Marietta High School, Chase attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he received an Associate’s Degree in Visual Communication before beginning his professional career in Charlotte, NC in 1993. He served a two-year apprenticeship in Charlotte and then moved on to work in many different shops in Cocoa Beach, Orlando, Atlanta, Roanoke, and Bloomington. During those years, he also worked at five tattoo conventions in Miami and Detroit before returning home in 2003. After years of hard work, he opened Monkey’s Uncle Tattoo in 2015.

“I felt that Marietta needed to get away from the stereotypical tattoo shops,” said Chase. “I wanted to work in an environment that was colorful and creative for the artist, and where people felt safe.”

Chase said he wanted to overcome the image that previous shops had made by using drugs, alcohol, and dirty, unsafe environments. “I’m very proud of my storefront. It’s in a high traffic area, it’s very colorful and classy. It sets a good example for the neighborhood and welcomes you to the west side of Marietta.”

Located at the base of the Putnam Street Bridge, the storefront is indeed eye-catching and full of personality, just like the artists who work inside. “The inside is even brighter and more colorful, bringing life to the intersection at night.” Chase renovated the building himself, taking out a loan on his car and working seven days a week to rebuild it to his specifications.

Anyone that visits our shop can leave knowing they were in good hands and that we stand by out work.

“The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is being able to run a shop the way I believe it should be run and to provide a prosperous work environment for other artists,” he said. “I also love hearing positive feedback and reviews from friends and customers.” Chase prides himself on running an exceptionally clean and safe shop, with extended education on bloodborne pathogens. “Anyone that visits our shop can leave knowing they were in good hands and that we stand by out work.”

Voted one of the Best Tattoo Shops in the MOV, Monkey’s Uncle Tattoo has made a name for itself not just through the talent of its artists, but through its commitment to the surrounding community. “We’ve helped sponsor family-oriented events and we recently helped paint old and faded playground equipment at Flanders Field.” Earlier this year, Chase and Meg Rataiczak, an artist at Monkey’s Uncle, spoke with students at Marietta Middle School on tattooing as a career. This fall, Chase says the shop is excited to host a unique flea market in their parking lot to benefit neighborhood charities.

“One of the most challenging things about being a small business owner is trying to please everyone,” he said. “I’m far from perfect and I make mistakes. When I do, I try to learn from it and make the necessary changes and hope people understand.”

Believing in oneself can go a long way and Chase credits his wife Kelli for supporting him along his journey towards owning his own business. “She stood with me in my darkest times. She was very patient and over time built me up to the point where I started to believe it myself. Eventually, I was able to stand tall on my own, and with my wife’s support and some money from the unfortunate death of my Dad (who grew up on the west side) I was able to build and start Monkey’s Uncle Tattoo.”

Chase encourages other entrepreneurs to not give up on their dream – to go for it and go big, and to not compromise. The rewards are worth the risk.