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From the very start that I met Kim Cramer - my proud co-founder of BR-ND - back in 2005,  she made an amazing impression on me. Fresh from University, armed with scientific thinking and heaps of empathy, she filled a large gap in my professional reality. Together we discovered and grew emotive thinking in branding, which culminated in the innovative services of our firm. And although I myself am always stubbornly pushing for transformation whatever, it was Kim who kept me on track. Critical in her analysis, loyal in her friendship and committed to change the world of branding in a blissful way. Over the last year Kim went through the most significant transformation herself.  She gave birth to new life; a boy named Kai.

I witnessed her transform both mentally and physically over an amazing short period. One moment we crossed the finish line of the Marathon of Amsterdam end of 2012, the next moment her belly started to grow. I also saw the gradual changes in her temper. Motherhood is such a permanent emotional transformation. I don't know any life event so transforming that wouldn't come with heaps of anxiety, worry, regret, ambivalence or wondering. It must be the nature of the beast. I remember how the pregnancy of the mother of my own children caused the most significant changes to her personality and to the nature of our intimate relation. Unfortunately, these less-than-glowing feelings are also among life's best-kept secrets. I wonder if the emotions during pregnancy simply are caused by hormones run amok? Or is motherhood the ultimate test combining compassion and perseverance?

The last couple of months Kim has been on pregnancy leave. Basically I have had to run the show alone. Something I have had to adjust to after our 3-4 year period of intensive daily co-operation. I have come to understand how much she means to me and how difficult it is to run the operation without her on my side. I have been brutally confronted with my own operational shortcomings. And I have felt her absence from the office, simple things like the way she frantically types on her keyboard and her typical energetic steps when she walks around. Suddenly I have had to deal with project planning and financial follow ups. But most of all I missed her as a source of creative inspiration.

People have asked me about the future. Will Kim be back? Will she be able to combine her family chores with fighting for our purpose to change brands emotively? Where will her focus be?

I gave this question thought and I concluded things can only change for the better. Convinced I am that motherhood causes a fundamental transformation in women. Think of female extreme long distance runners performing even better directly after pregnancy. Women are even able to outrun males while breastfeeding on the go. Childbirth is the ultimate creative performance and it triggers survival instincts beyond the ordinary. Motherhood is the ultimate test combining compassion and perseverance. Will Kim transform from a Diva into a Lioness? For some a question, for me a yes!

On a personal note: Kim I can't wait having you back later this month! Thankful I am in having you as a most empathic and competitive friend and business partner.

I also thank Celeste Miller, Daan Koene, Annelies Engel, Olivier van Veen, Michiel van Beek, Karin de Mos, Kim van der Brugge, Daphne Depassé and all other 23plusone friends for your friendship and support the last couple of months!

Amsterdam, 5 August 2013

Alexander Koene

Proud Owner BR-ND