is proud to present the story behind Brian Keith Thompson’s stunning success as proprieter and head piercer at Body Electric Tattoo, alongside a gallery of him on the job. In addition, enjoy a slow-mo video of women reacting to getting their nipples pierced by Thompson for the first time—and brace yourself for a point-blank clip of Thompson piercing one of his own.

You’re bound to be enticed by the soothing energy inside of Body Electric Tattoo. With its funky yet tastefully decorated walls, handpicked vintage furniture and “no attitude” policy, it feels like a place you want to lounge in all day. Every single corner is impeccably clean by orders of owner Brian Keith Thompson, who is admittedly peculiar about doing things around the shop his way. It’s hard to believe that someone so genuine and professional was once sentenced to serve time in jail for accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. It’s not even until Thompson manages to make gut-twisting recipes learned in jail sound appetizing that you realize he’s an ex-convict.

There’s an electricity about Thompson. His thirst for success is insatiable and he knows it. He also knows he didn’t get there on his own: A combination of serving as Marine, working in Corporate America and nearly facing a death penalty has fueled him to spend the rest of his life only moving upward.

Five years after being released from jail and returning to his previous corporate job, Thompson came across the opportunity to invest in a business he knew nothing about: a tattoo parlor. The only thing he knew about tattoos and piercings was that he had some on his body. In his mind, there was little time to think when the opportunity to invest in this particular business came around. With an early retirement check, his life savings and an inexplicable impulse to make something of his own, Thompson quit his day job and took over the tattoo shop that would change his life forever.

Fast-forward 10 years and you meet a man who’s marching toward a future that he built. In between piercing celebrities, appearing on TV shows and making time for clients who travel from all over the world for his services, you can find Thompson expanding Body Electric Tattoo even further. His accomplishments are the dream of everyone who’s ever wanted to say “fuck it” to a 9 to 5 in pursuit a self-made lifestyle instead. Thompson got here not because he’d wired with the notion that he’s special; he got here because he knows what life feels like when you have nothing. While it’s clear that Thompson’s journey has been far from easy and is far from done, he understands the world owes him no apology—and that’s what gets him up every morning.

“Prison changed me in a positive way. I can’t explain it, but it lit something inside me. I was unstoppable when I got out.”

“If you’re constantly thinking of a back-up plan, you’re already setting yourself up for failure.”

“I stretched out my ears and tattooed my hands so I couldn’t chicken out and go back to corporate America.”

“Listening to that gut feeling and not being afraid to take that step is really what saved me.”

“The most powerful thing humans have is hope. If you give humans just a seed, a tiny little drop of hope, they can survive everything.”

MODEL: Alice Haig

Diana Vergara is an Associate Web Producer for Follow her @dilovesyou_.