Alona Vibe & Kenneth Nguyen

Kenneth works as an in-house photographer at Mercedes-Benz and with his own social channels @kennethnguyen and YouTube, for example with content for Boob. Alona is on parental leave part-time with Nova. When she works, it is mainly with assignments for Mero and newly started Dulcet, as well as with freelance assignments related to her own social channel @alonavibe.


I, Alona, grew up in the countryside an hour outside of Copenhagen with my parents and two brothers. After high school and a year of traveling around the world, I moved to Copenhagen to study. I started photographing during my studies and got my first clients while I was at university. Today, I have a master's degree in IT, but instead of taking a job, I decided to work as a full-time consultant and started the creative studio Mero together with my colleague Monica Steffensen.

And I, Kenneth, grew up in Jutland but have moved around and lived in almost all the major cities in Denmark. My parents both came as boat refugees from Vietnam to Denmark in the early 80s. My career as a photographer started in 2007 when I covered a violent demonstration. Later, I attended a photo school but decided to drop out to take advantage of job opportunities that had come up. I have now worked as a freelance photographer for over ten years with clients such as Mercedes-Benz, Netflix, and Adidas.

Hello Alona and Kenneth! You are the first couple in our article series, so we might call it "Couples We Love". Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. You have recently become parents to your wonderful little Nova. How does it feel?

Thank you so much for having us - we are super excited to be part of this interview series! Overall, we really enjoy the new life as a family of three. But becoming parents is, of course, an incredibly big change that affects all parts of life. It can be exhausting at times, especially when the little one struggles to settle down and sleep. But almost every day, we ask ourselves why we waited "so long" to take this step.


Are there any early parenting experiences that have surprised you so far?

Several, to give two examples: firstly, how short the initial newborn phase actually is. Nova was "aware" and could hold her head up already after 3-4 weeks, and before we knew it, she was more of a baby than a newborn. Secondly, how much time you spend getting babies to sleep. You rock, sway, and sing 2/3 of the day – at least in our case.

If we go back a bit, tell us more about how your love story started. How did you meet?

We have known each other for nine years, and our love story can be divided into two chapters. Part 1: We "met" via Instagram in 2012. Nowadays, that might sound completely normal, but back then, it was not common at all since IG was quite an unknown app among many others. We left a few flirty comments on each other's pictures (DMs didn't exist at that time) until we ran into each other by chance one night in town. A few weeks later, we went for a walk, and it ended up with us dating for six months. It was a bit dramatic, haha, yes, the timing wasn't quite right for us, so we split. Part 2: A few years after we had separated, we met again by chance during a bike ride in Copenhagen and started talking again. This time it felt completely right, and we became a couple again quite quickly. In the years that followed, we worked and traveled together, and after four years as a couple, we had our love child, Nova.


As a family of freelancers who often work together, how do you divide life between work and parental leave?

Due to the nature of our jobs, it has perhaps been a bit more fluid and without any direct plan compared to how it might look for other families. The downside of freelance work is that it can be difficult to plan in advance, so we knew we would need to be flexible and adjust along the way. An advantage, on the other hand, is that you have the possibility of great flexibility. So even though Alona has been on full-time parental leave for the first six months, as Nova primarily breastfed, I, Kenneth, have been able to work a lot from home more than what might be possible for most. Now that Nova has also started eating some regular food, we think both of us should be able to work part-time and cover for each other.

Alona, you have been very transparent about your hormonal swings in connection with Nova's birth. What did you do to take care of yourself? Do you have any tips you want to share?

I usually take the time to shower for more than 5 minutes, and I try to focus on being aware of my breathing at least once a day and go to bed early – this together helps me stay grounded.


If we dive a little more into the pregnancy, apart from your obvious physical differences, how did you both experience that time in life?

It's hard to separate body and soul when talking about the experience of a pregnancy, I think (Alona), because I also believe that how you feel physically has a big impact on how you experience the journey mentally. We were lucky and had an uncomplicated pregnancy without pregnancy-related issues or other complications. So most of the time, we enjoyed imagining what our baby would be like. We both thought the time went by so fast, and we hope we get the privilege of experiencing it again one day!

Given the uncertain world we live in, how do you balance the joy of being new parents against the changes in the world?

2020 was a tough year, to say the least, with COVID-19 as the driving factor in terms of changes. It was also the best year ever for us on a personal level as we got to become "mom" and "dad." Of course, there are many negative sides, but we have decided to try to see the positive in it all. A clear upside is that it is completely legitimate to be a homebody, which fits perfectly when a newborn baby has arrived in the family. That first time requires you to slow down, stay home, and just "be" with your new little person, and it is so much easier to do that when the whole world, even outside your baby bubble, slows down. Honestly, we have always preferred staying home to going out and partying, but just the fact that we have now been told to stay home has taken the edge off the stress and allowed us to fully enjoy the little things in everyday life as parents.


What do you both hope to pass on to Nova?

High emotional intelligence and a sense of self-worth so that she can face life and people with kindness, empathy, and curiosity.

Do you have any tips or life hacks you want to share with other expectant or new parents?

It may sound like a cliché, but trust your own intuition and instincts. There is no map for life with children. And don't be afraid to ask for help from loved ones – they love to help. There is an old African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," which is true. We asked Alona's mother to stay with us the first week after Nova was born. She cooked nutritious food, kept things tidy, and took care of Nova when I needed a nap. It was a fantastic gift to receive and a very special time to share with her.

Do you have any wishes for 2021?

Good health... and to be able to hug our friends without worry.


Read more about other moms in the series Moms We Love here!