After reading all the Harry Potter books and attending as many Harry Potter conventions as possible, Monica Leon, 19, sought her first tattoo: a wizardly “Deathly Hallows” emblem on the back of her neck.
Early this February, Leon walked into Sincerely Yours, one of Chico’s Marked 4 Life tattoo parlors on Bird Road near Tropical Park. She was immediately caught off guard.
“It was my first time walking into a tattoo shop, and as soon as I walked in, I was not expecting what I saw,” said Leon. “It is so classy, and I love how it’s all girls.”
Sincerely Yours is a tattoo and body-piercing parlor comprised of all women tattoo artists — five to be exact.
Janielle “Jani” Gaggero, manager and artist at Sincerely Yours, said this venue is more welcoming than the average tattoo parlor.
“We’re acting different, making it look and feel more professional,” said Gaggero, 24, who has been tattooing at Chico’s for more than four years. “Being girls, we’re a bit nicer.”
Marked 4 Life chain owner, Robert “Chico” Cortez, had been thinking of converting one of his parlors to an all women-staff for about three years.
He remembers talking about opening the parlor with his first female employee, Katherine Flores, known as “Tatu Baby,” who starred on Seasons 2 and 3 on SpikeTV’s Ink Master.
Cortez also employed Tiffany Perez, who came from New Jersey and was filmed in Season 1 on the reality TV show Best Ink on Oxygen.
“None of my guys have made it to TV, but I put two girls on,” said Cortez. “So let’s ride the train, either I divert the route or I continue.”
In January, he renovated his old store “Golden Buddha” to create Sincerely Yours, which now he and his wife, Iris Cortez, co-own.
In the process of renovating, Cortez, 44, invested $5,000 to add new equipment, such as “Eternal Ink,” Cortez’s preferred ink, and new massage beds for tattooing.
“I want the shop to be perfect,” said Cortez, who hopes the venue pays homage to all female tattoo artists.
Inside, a magenta vintage chaise lounge sits adjacent to its front desk, purple curtains cover the windows and antique-looking frames display old black-and-white pictures of a beautiful woman in a corset, pearls and tattoos from the neck down. Her name is Maud Wagner, one of America’s first female tattoo artists.
Today, the five women working at Sincerely Yours say they are learning from each other, much like you would in an art studio.
Each artist has a certain style to offer. Gaggero has a colorful “cartoony” style she says draws in more female clients, while Victoria “Tori” Fernandez, another artist, is known for her darker, horror-influenced style, which she says attracts more males.
“My black and gray set up is a little out of control,” said Fernandez, 20. “I was always drawn to darker things.”
Fernandez, who finished her apprenticeship at Chico’s about five months ago, is glad to be working alongside other female artists.
“It’s awesome that we have so many talented women working with us,” said Fernandez. “I think it’s just a really good opportunity to push the art forward.”