Steder Tattoo to open downtown in coming months

‘It'll be nice to have my own place in my hometown’

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ROCHELLE — Mat Steder wants to have a Steder Tattoo little league team.

He was born and raised in Rochelle and recently had a special use permit approved by the city council to open a tattoo parlor at 507 W. 4th Ave. downtown. He plans to open it around Jan. 1. Steder comes from Raven Tattoo in Dixon and said he services a lot of Rochelle residents already. The business will be Rochelle’s first tattoo shop. 

When thinking of names for the shop, Steder had a few in mind. He landed on Steder Tattoo and his family name as a way of paying homage to his father, Ron, who passed away last year. Ron owned and ran Steder Diesel and Steder Trucking in town during the 1990s. 

“I want to bring back the Steder name, even though it's a different occupation,” Steder said. “My dad did a lot for the community in the 80s and 90s and was really involved in youth baseball and softball. He built the dugouts at the softball fields and had a few teams in the baseball leagues. I want to do things like that.”

Ron Steder was named community leader of the year in Rochelle in 1993. Mat still has the newspaper article laminated. He was nine years old in the picture on it. 

“It's really cool,” Steder said. “It shows a list of everything he was involved in. I look back and see what I can do to kind of mimic what he was doing. I needed to get my foot in the door. This is me doing that.”

Due to his father passing away during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Steder said the family didn’t get to have a funeral for him at the time. Mat didn’t get the closure he wanted. 

“This is my way of doing something for him,” Steder said. “I want to be more involved and be in my father's footsteps and pick up where he left off years ago before he got sick. I think it'd be really neat, even though he doesn't get to see it. For me, that's my closure. Doing something that he would be proud of.”

Steder got into tattoos when he was 17. His nephew’s father was a tattoo artist. That was about 20 years ago. Steder said he’s always been artistic and interested in art. He used to doodle on his school work. He got his first tattoo at 18. 

Steder started doing tattoos around 2004 or 2005. He still had a full-time job to support his family. In 2009, he did his apprenticeship at Crybaby’s in Chicago Heights. He’d drive into the city on the weekends and worked full-time back home during the week. He later took a break for a few years. 

“My friend Zack Martin owns Raven Tattoo in Dixon and gave me a call in 2018 and asked if I wanted to get back in,” Steder said. “I said I'd love to. That brought me back into the world."

Steder and his wife are expecting a newborn in February and that played into his decision to open a shop in his hometown where he lives. He feels it’s a “win-win” for he and his Rochelle clients, who won’t have to commute anymore either. 

“The majority of them are from Rochelle, Dixon and the surrounding area,” Steder said. “I feel like it'll just be nice to have my own place in my hometown I was born and raised in. I just feel at home here."

Steder Tattoo will be an appointment-only business. The COVID-19 pandemic has phased out a lot of the walk-in aspect of the tattoo industry. 

Steder will be taking the next two months to set up. Right now, his shop is just tape. He has the layout visualized and locations are marked for furniture. Everything will be custom made with a “modern industrial” look with pipework shelves and burnt pine wood paneling. He'll have a merchandise wall. 

Since he’s never opened a business of his own before, Steder said that right now, he’s just being patient and “riding the wave.”

He expressed surprise at how the tattoo industry and market have changed over the years. In his career, he’s done tattoos for police chiefs and nurses. He’s excited to do more. 

"Times have really changed,” Steder said. “10 years ago, you were weird if you had tattoos. Now you're almost weird if you don't.”