I have been getting ink done for 16 years and yet I never knew much about the business. Then I started going to Forever Ink, the first place I ever truly felt at home. It was during a recent visit that I decided I wanted to find out more about the shop and the people that work there and those that offer themselves up for the artists to ply their profession but more importantly, to find out how the mind of an owner/operator/founder of a growing company works.
July 13th 2006, Chris Reich opened the doors to Forever Ink for the first time. At first it was only him, one man trying to carve out his place in the tattoo world. Being a one man operation gave him the ability to make sure that only quality walked out the front door. The first artist he hired was Stephanie Lane. From that point the “Family” grew, hiring only quality artists. Chris has so much faith in his staff/family that he knows that they will only produce the quality that he has prided himself in for the last four years.
But he didn’t stop there. While the shop is a great way to network, it isn’t the only thing Chris has his hands in. When I said this was a growing company I wasn’t kidding. Forever Inc. was founded. Forever Inc. is not only the shop (Chris is opening a second location along with the one at 666 Leonard) but there is Forever Graphics, a productions company that works with bands, they sponsor a race car, apparel, Mafia Mike’s Pizza, and a cage fight team. All this makes up the Forever Inc. family as a direct member or sponsor, as is the case with Mafia Mike’s.
Chris says that business has been good even though the economy hasn’t been and the growth of Forever Ink into Forever Inc. is proof. I was told that one reason that the business has grown and prospered is that the family of artists at Forever Ink offers quality at working man’s prices.
So you may be wondering what drives Chris? Well you may be surprised that he has no formal training as an artist. Growing up with an uncle in the business, Chris was exposed to the tattoo world early on. He indicated that no one thought he would ever amount to anything, having very little or no education. In a way, this is his way of proving everyone wrong, that he could make something of himself. He also couldn’t see himself working for anyone else. By opening a successful shop gave him the control over the environment and allowed him to have that quality control that was mentioned earlier.
Here we are, four years in and still going strong. Where does Chris go from here? Well he isn’t done and he isn’t stopping. He plans on opening four shops in the area and somewhere in the future moving his act to Florida and opening another shop. It would seem that the business slogan is “Taking over the world, one tattoo at a time”.
If you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area and you are looking for quality ink at affordable prices then stop in at Forever Ink at 666 Leonard ST. NW or call ahead at 616.451.9644 and become part of the family.