HUMBOLDT PARK — Three friends fought through more than a year’s worth of delays to open a business — and are now living out their dream with a new tattoo and art studio in Humboldt Park.
Gabriella Zahradka, Cae Jones and Jada Denae started work on The Jungle, 2409 W. Hirsch St., in spring 2021, raising more than $18,000 from supporters for the project. They wanted the shop to celebrate their various arts and interests while being welcoming and empowering to Black, Brown and queer artists and customers.
They were finally able to open this December — and neighbors have loved it, Zahdraka said.
“Everyone who’s come in to get tattooed by me since we’ve been open has been like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been following you guys for a long time,’” Zahradka said. “That is the most humbling and rewarding thing to know, that people were waiting just as long as we were.”
The Jungle replaces Time Being Tattoo and is open by appointment and for events.
The owners transformed the space to reflect their vision and style using donated furniture, items from former tenants and decorations designed by their own team.
“Everything fell into place at once. It’s been so cool to see how the place has pieced together,” Zahradka said. “It feels like a scrapbook of what the experience in the building has been.”
The Jungle has hosted two flash tattoo events, and the owners plan to host pop-ups each month. Besides offering tattooing, they hope to have vintage fashion, music and plant education events at the spot.
Jones, who is a botanist with experience working in the cannabis industry, hosted a cannabis home-growing workshop last winter, before they opened, and they plan to have similar events for cannabis and non-cannabis planting. He will host a virtual home grow course Saturday followed by an in-person session Sunday at the shop.
“It’s a very wholesome experience,” Jones said. “It’s a lot less intimidating of a task than most people have conceptualized it as, and that’s what I want to do as far as breaking down the stigma in general that still surrounds cannabis.”
Denae, who recently started their own tattooing practice, plans to display their collection of vintage fashion and upcycled furniture at the studio.
“I taught myself how to build and upcycle furniture, which I hope to continue expanding on,” they said. “The Jungle has created a physical space for projects like that. It allows for so much more space to get things done.”
The trio have big plans for The Jungle, as they’re planning repotting classes for spring, flash events with mutual aid benefits, guests workshops from community members and a spring vintage market.
“It’s really a huge privilege to be in the physical space, and we want to share that with as many people as possible,” Zahradka said. “We can finally get to the fun part.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: