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The founder of a Rotherham-based tattoo studio has won the coveted Rotherham Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of her achievements since the business was launched in 2013.

Emily Dawson, a 27 year-old tattoo artist from Rotherham, received the grand prize at an awards ceremony at Magna Science Centre on the 13 November at which her business – Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective – was also named ‘Most Innovative Business of the Year’. Emily was presented with a cheque for £1,000, to invest in further developing her business, alongside a trophy by Keith Williams of UK Steel Enterprise.

Now in its twelfth year, the event - hosted by Rotherham Youth Enterprise and UK Steel Enterprise - recognises the achievements of business owners aged between 18 and 30, highlighting the breadth of talent and overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit of young people in Rotherham.

Based in the historic Imperial Buildings in Rotherham, Emily – the town centre’s first female tattoo artist - manages a tattoo studio offering fully custom designs drawn by each artist on the team in their own individual style. The studio also hosts guest artists from up and down the country offering customers an even greater selection of looks to choose from.

Uniquely, everyone who works at the studio has suffered from mental health issues and the business is proud to support a number of mental health charities.

Speaking after the event, Emily said “Tattooing is often not portrayed in a great light, so I am over the moon that my business has been recognised not once, but twice in these awards.

“I wanted to be a tattoo artist from a very early age and have faced a lot of criticism and gender discrimination throughout my career. I put every penny I had into setting up Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective and I am extremely proud of both the studio that I have created and the industry in which I work.”

Emily is currently in the process of opening a second studio in the Old Town Hall to enable the business to offer more services and products to an ever increasing customer base.

Adds Emily: “Despite many local businesses closing, Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective remains strong and prosperous, and the future of the business is bright. I have a huge passion for Rotherham and all that it has to offer. We have a strong sense of community and I believe that is the secret to having success within the town.”

“I will be utilising the £1,000 prize fund to purchase an Apple iMac for my second studio, which is opening next week in the Old Town Hall in Rotherham town centre. The addition of the Apple iMac to my second studio will uphold the current high standards of Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective to ensure that the second studio is as successful as the first!”

In addition, winners of the ‘Business Most Determined to Succeed’, ‘Best Customer Service’, ‘Business with Best Online Presence’ and ‘Best Business Pitch’ categories each also walked away with £500 to contribute to the further success of their individual businesses. These included:

Business Most Determined to Succeed, sponsored by the University Centre Rotherham – Thomas Ridgeway “Cutthroats Barbershop”.

Business with Best Online Presence, sponsored by The Source Skills Academy – Adam Price “Dynomodels”.

Best Customer Service, sponsored by Parkgate Shopping – Lucy Hornsby “Lucy Amber Lingerie”.

Best Business Pitch, sponsored by Fortem – Sam Wilkinson & Luke Bell “Postify Ltd”.

Most Innovative Business, sponsored by AESSEAL – Emily Dawson “Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective”.

Darren McDool, Business Coach from Rotherham Youth Enterprise, said: “The calibre of candidates that entered this year has again been exceptional. We had a fantastic mix of creative new start-ups and established growing businesses, representing the increasing number of entrepreneurial young individuals in our region.”

The awards were supported by lead sponsor UK Steel Enterprise, a subsidiary of Tata Steel tasked with helping the economic regeneration of communities affected by changes in the steel industry by investing in growing companies.

Keith Williams of UK Steel Enterprise, added: “Emily stood out, head and shoulders above a very strong group of finalists. Her commitment to high standards, an ethical approach and exceptional customer service impressed every one of the judges. This is the twelfth year of the Rotherham Youth Enterprise Awards and there were some very good businesses amongst the finalists, demonstrating that the spirit of entrepreneurship is growing in Rotherham and that age is no barrier to success.”