The Ink Link is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases tattoos in the workplace. One of the great things about a tattoo is that it goes against the commonly-held viewpoint that “what you see is what you get”. There’s a misguided belief in certain quarters that in order to be a working professional, it is categorically *impossible* to have a tattoo… because how can someone with a tattoo be a professional? We are putting paid to that perception through the stories showcased in the Ink Link. If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please get in contact with us.

I had the privilege of meeting this gem of a human nearly ten years ago. We have worked on various projects, clients and cool campaigns together, one being the daREDevil run. This fabulous and smart entrepreneur is always doing cool sh1t with cool people (she is a Leb too) and her tattoos have always intrigued me. Let’s dive a little deeper and get to know Gabs and the inspiration behind her “tat’s”.

Howzit Gabs, thanks for taking the time. Please can you tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do?

I’m Gabriella Brondani Rego. I recently turned 30 years old; I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Dagan Rego, who is an attorney in JHB; and I’m human-mom to a very busy and very beautiful little Boston Terrier called Olive (the #BaddestBitchInAllTheLand).

I’ve been in the PR space for about 11 years and own boutique PR company urban espresso. I’m also a co-founder of a South African Multi-Gaming Organisation (MGO) called Goliath Gaming (GG) and have been very fortunate to travel with some of SA’s best gamers to Amsterdam, London and Delhi where they have competed on the world stage. Twice a month I pop in to 702 to chat to Azania Mosaka about all things travel (which I adore). 

I really dig all your ink, how many tattoos do you currently have? 

*Technically four.

Technically . . . Can you explain your tattoos and the inspiration behind them?

  • I have two small stars on my left wrist. To be totally honest, when I got these, there was no real rhyme or reason besides the fact that they looked pretty! They were almost an accessory of sorts, I suppose. That said, as time has passed, meaning has been assigned to them. In 2015 when my jidu (grandad) passed away, the stars came to remind me of him and my situ (who has also passed) – side by side, together. I see these stars daily and they always remind me of my situ and jidu who I loved (and still love) dearly ☺
  • My next tattoo was writing that says “One day at a time” running down the right side of my back. I got this in 2010 shortly after my dad was first diagnosed with cancer. That was a really scary and challenging time for me, and as much as we say the human mind is powerful to get through tough times and challenges (which it totally is when you stay focused and push through!), I personally felt a physical reminder that I could see wouldn’t hurt. This tattoo served as a reminder to me, daily, to take it (the journey we were on with my dad – and later, life in general) one day at a time. Simple, but powerful. 
  • My next tattoo was actually inspired by a bracelet I got ☺ It said ”Have faith, expect miracles” and I thought this was just so beautiful! It also reminded me of my situ, who was such a spiritual person, and sounded like something she would say to me. So I added it alongside my “One day at a time” tattoo and now it reads “Have faith expect miracles, one day at a time”. (This is why I said “*technically four tattoos – because #2 and #3 became one tattoo☺)
  • On my right inner bicep, I have a skyline tattoo which is all done in one “stroke” if you will. It contains landmarks of some of my favourite places I’ve travelled to (as at 2014 – because I’ve travelled to some new favourite places since then, but wouldn’t add to that tattoo because I like how quaint and small it is as is). The tattoo contains: a heart, the Eiffel Tower (Paris), the London Eye (London), Vesuvius (Pompeii), JHB (my home town and where my heart is!), a palm tree for Durbs (my favourite local city), the sea (for Dubai) and ends off with a paper plane (symbolising travel).
  • My most recent tattoo is also a “one-stroke outline” of Freddie Mercury – where he’s singing into a microphone, head tipped back and one leg kicked up behind him. Not a lot of people see this image when they first look at the tattoo, but once I explain what it is, it’s so obvious and then that’s all you see! This was a tattoo that I got in London in 2019 as part of #MyFavouriteHubby’s 30th birthday celebration. Ahead of his birthday trip to London, I was on the treadmill at gym and was in a crazy good mood that morning – and randomly thought “given Dag’s love and admiration for Freddie as a performer and human being, getting Freddie Mercury-inspired tattoos on the trip would be a cool idea! He’d love it!” Before I gave myself time to sleep on it (and remember how bad I am with needles to then chicken out**), I messaged #MyFavouriteHubby who loved the idea and proceeded to book us appointments at a tattoo parlour in Kings Cross. The deposit was paid and by then I was fully committed and had to follow through- needles, squeamishness and all. Haha.

We now both have Freddie-inspired tattoos of a similar style (his and hers tattoos, if you will). YOLO?! Haha ☺

Yhuss, that is so rad, I think people now understand why I rate you and your #FavouriteHubby. Difficult question but do you have a favourite?

Kurt! It’s like asking a parent who is their favourite child! Haha but no, I love all of them for a different reason because they all represent such different things, people and experiences in my life.

Touchè, so I know about the Kings Cross spot, what other tattoo parlour and/or artist did you go to?

  1. + 2 A tattoo artist who was a friend of a friend (in JHB)
  2. + 4 Rocio Todisco at The Black Lodge (she’s AMAZING! In JHB)

5.  Kings Cross Tattoo Parlour (in London)

Gabbi at King Cross Tattoo Parlour in London

I think we should plan a trip to Lebanon, and get one there 🙂 Any interesting stories about where/when you got your ink?

**I’m SO squeamish and can’t stand the sight and feeling of needles! I literally want to throw up or faint (maybe even both at the same time…) which makes getting tattoos for me, “interesting”… Haha. This is the reason I don’t have more tattoos than I do (I’d probably have a full sleeve by now if not for my squeamishness! I think sleeve tattoos on women are so beautiful!). 
If I absolutely ADORE a design or feel strongly about the symbolism of a tattoo, I’ll sit through the needle (which has been the case for the tattoos I do have). For now, I’m very happy with the simple and quaint designs I do have (which, lucky for me, don’t require much needle time!)

I’m a big admirer and appreciator of tattoos on other people. I love hearing about peoples’ tattoos – their stories (which is why I love the Ink Link that CN&CO covers!); the meaning or symbolism (if there is any); if it’s just a case of them loving the style or design; or it representing a certain time, moment or experience in their lives.

“Squeamishness” hahaha, did you have any issues with work or a job?

Fortunately, I haven’t ☺ I think the world is changing and more people are becoming a lot more “open” and liberal to more things – including tattoos in the workplace. There are of course some people who aren’t as accepting, and that’s okay (because each to their own).

That’s fair. So, as a squeamish lover of tats, what advice would you give someone looking to get their first tattoo?

I think some people who want to get a tattoo for the first time are often pressured by the “But how will it look when you’re older?” or “What if you regret it down the line?” comments from others which may put them off. If a tattoo is symbolic or significant for you at one point in your life, or even if you love a certain style or image at any point in your life (without assigning any meaning to it), it’ll always be special to you. And if it’s special to you in some way and/or reminds you about a certain special time or experience in your life, you shouldn’t regret it. 
For me, personally, if at the end of my life a tattoo is my biggest regret, then I couldn’t have done this life thing too badly (because there are bigger and way more serious regrets you could have in life) ☺

You are great and inspiring. Thanks for letting me share your personal stories with the world. Big ups on your awesome tats, building Urban Espresso, taking over the gaming world with Goliath gaming, and being #TheBestwifey, #BestHumanMomToOlive, and overall lekker human.