The Ink Link – Gabbi Rego

The Ink Link is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases tattoos in the workplace. If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please get in contact with us.


Overall I have three small tattoos:

On my wrist

20160516_134157 (1)Two little stars on my left wrist which I got in 2009. 19 years old at the time, the story behind it isn’t incredibly profound. My younger years were very tame: I never smoked, never drank alcohol, never drank coffee (and then later founded urban espresso, go figure). I was super chilled and super health conscious and avoided any of those so called “typical” activities most people experiment with in their teenage years. Having just started out in the PR industry, I was a bit “concerned” that I might be giving off the impression that I was a bit of a goodie goodie – and not doing any of these things wasn’t doing me any good in building rapport with potential clients (or so I thought at the time). So, the logical step forward when I knew a tattoo artist was offering little star tattoos for R100 a pop? Break the goodie goodie persona and get two of them! It might sound silly now, but it worked and it’s a cool conversation starter.

After that experience, though, most people said I’d regret getting those tattoos for that reason. So now, those two little stars are a reminder of me to never have regrets. Every time I look at them, I’m reminded of that and when I’m stuck having to make a difficult decision, help me find a way forward. Now eight years later, I still love them to this day. They’ve almost become an accessory. Where most people wear bracelets or a watch, I have my tattoos (and besides I have some kickass earrings and necklaces anyway)

On my back

A phrase running down the right side of my back on my ribcage. It says “Have faith, expect miracles one day at a time”. The second ink sitting after my stars, this tattoo I got in two stages.

The “one day at a time” phrase I got in September 2009, just before I turned 20 years old. It was shortly after a relative of mine was diagnosed with cancer and was a pretty difficult time in my life. For anyone heading along in the cancer journey (be it directly or indirectly), a strong focus and a positive mindset is vital. The human mind is a funny thing and the whole cancer thing is a mindf*ck. As much as we stay focused when we are consciously looking to, it’s during those times when we hit “a wobble”, lose focus and need reaffirmation the most. So “One day at a time” was a daily reminder for myself to do just that – take it one day at a time – along the cancer journey with my loved one. I see this tattoo every day so it reinforces that message, to take things as they come.

A year later, for my 21st birthday, I came across the phrase “have faith, expect miracles” – I loved it, and the minute I saw it, knew it would be my next tattoo. It fitted in quite well alongside “one day at a time” so I aligned them next to each other. I’m quite a spiritual person, and grew up in a strong faith, so this phrase is also linked to my family – namely my mom and my late Situ (gran) – two really spiritual people in my life. These two tattoos together now read “Have faith, expect miracles, one day at a time.”

On my bicep (boytjie)

Gabbi tattooA skyline of some iconic landmarks of the world on my inner right bicep. This is my most recent tattoo and was given to me by my hubby, Dagan, for my 26th birthday last year. It contains an outline of the landmarks from some of my favourite adventures around the world: it starts with a little heart, The Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii (probably my ultimate adventure so far), the Carlton Tower (Joburg), a palm tree for Dubai, the waves for Durban, and ends off with a little paper plane. It reminds me of all the world has to offer and how fortunate I have been to see a small part of it; there is much still to explore!

When it comes to my personal opinion about ink in the workplace, I’m always fascinated to learn about which employers and brands/jobs “allow” tattoos and which don’t. I feel it says a lot about the company and their policies and culture, as I think how you treat your staff represents your company ethos. That said, I do realise that in some careers, visible tattoos may not give off the best impression to clients, so it makes sense for those employers to want them to be “hidden.”

Personally, and in my line of work, I have no problem with them at all. I’m fascinated by tattoos and love appreciating a good tattoo. While I have never been discriminated in the workplace because of my tattoos, I would hate for it to happen to anyone and one of my favourite stories about this issue is from Starbucks.

As a follow up to my initial tattoos, I am unsure whether I would get more. The process of getting one absolutely kills me! The second sitting of my ribcage tattoo took about 40 minutes and it was *the most* uncomfortable 40 minutes of my life, but that is also because of the location. The bicep boytjie tat was a lot more bearable but still, for me to get another tat would depend on my finding a design that I really love.

I am not actively looking to get others at the moment, but then again, that is what I thought before my skyline tattoo as well…