“I knew God had something bigger for me.”

That’s an understatement for Katrina “Kat Tat” Jackson judging by the last few years she’s had.

Between 2017 and now, the Chicago-raised tattoo artist and former co-star of Vh1’s hit show Black Ink Crew Chicago has become a mother, gotten engaged, opened her own tattoo shop and landed a production deal, with her own show leading the lineup of projects.

But she says none of this would’ve been possible had she not been willing to walk away from everything first.

“Being a part of Black Ink Chicago was a dream come true,” the 31-year-old said. “Everyone was super welcoming and so talented. I was really happy there for a while.”

She said her love of art as a young girl led her to follow her vision of becoming a tattoo artist, and it was realized when she was brought on to work at 9 Mag, a popular shop in Chicago owned by Ryan Henry. He is also the star of the reality show based on the lives of the shop’s artists. She said that after realizing college wasn’t for her, being a part of Henry’s team was a no-brainer.

“I dropped out of school my senior year when I realized that juggling tattooing on campus and my studies just weren’t going to work. And I always knew what I wanted to do. When I began working at the shop, Ryan and Phor and everyone else were really like my brothers.”

When they were approached to be the stars of Vh1’s second installment of the Black Ink franchise, filming was a no-brainer for her. “It was such a great opportunity to highlight our beautiful city and all the talented people that live here,” she shared with Essence. “I really felt like it was a privilege to be there.”

As time passed and the show became more successful however, she realized there were things happening behind the scenes that weren’t in alignment with her vision for the show. “The production had a different idea for what would make Black Ink Crew: Chicago successful, and I realized I no longer wanted to be a part of the new direction they were taking it.”

She said, after deep reflection, she decided to leave the show in 2017 to focus on building her own brand and business. “I’d always wanted my own, and I knew the only way to make that happen was to let go of what was holding me back.”

Since then, she has successfully opened the doors to Enigma Tattoo in Beverly Hills. Per a statement from her team, she is the first Black woman to own a tattoo shop in the area.

Her founder’s and growth journey will be documented in the latest installment of the Black Ink lineup, Black Ink Crew: Compton. She is also serving as an executive producer with its parent company, Paramount, according to Deadline. “I couldn’t feel more blessed and I’m excited to partner with Paramount as they continue to bolster a new generation of BIPOC and women creators,” said Jackson in a news release. “I’m thrilled to not only return to TV, but to also create and produce new, fun, fresh, compelling and impactful content across all platforms.”