Great Grinds Drink Alike: Ubi Simpson - Red Bay Coffee

Great Grinds Drink Alike: Ubi Simpson

Red Bay Coffee is inspired by the many talented people we are surrounded by in Oakland. Our Great Grinds Campaign proudly features people we admire for their commitment and grind to their craft. 

As the lead designer and founder of Mi Cocina, Ulrich Conrad Simpson, known to most as Ubi, has re-imagined denim with a functional and stylish take on the modern home. 

Ubi spent years working for iconic brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Diane Von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein , and Ralph Lauren before the inspiration for Mi Cocina struck him while making breakfast for his young family. “I soon realized cooking wasn’t a delicate task, and of course, being sleep deprived, I kept burning myself. I thought, “This doesn’t make any sense. Why hasn’t anyone figured this out? Isn’t this a big enough industry?” Everyone’s cooking and none of the products in the market are functional unless you purchase a BBQ glove, which always seems to be a bit awkward looking. That was my aha moment…I wanted a functional product that looked great in the home while entertaining guests, but that could also withstand a weekend of camping up the California coast." 

"The beauty of denim is the more you wash it, the softer it gets. The dirtier things get, the better the product looks. What other fabric do you know of that can withstand constant abuse and still look so good?”

Ubi always knew he wanted Mi Cocina to stand apart in the world of denim. “First and foremost, all of our products are made in the USA, but that is just a jumping-off point. When it comes to the key pieces in our collection our approach is relatively simple: create items that are high quality, highly functional, and have an aesthetically beautiful sensibility. I think of what I need and how and when I would use it.” 

While he originally started designing items for himself, Mi Cocina has definitely established itself as a unisex brand. Ubi credits that with being part inspiration, part happy accident. “It was a little of both. I’m  6’3 280 lbs (on a good day) so I was originally most concerned with finding something that fits me and my aesthetic...especially for the oven mitts and aprons. At the same time, we live in a San Francisco apartment and space is at a premium. Anything that worked for me needed to work for my wife so we wouldn’t sacrifice valuable storage space."

One thing Ubi knew was that Mi Cocina would emphasize function but not sacrifice style. His beautiful, handcrafted products are inspired by the things people grapple with in day-to-day life. “We’ve recently purchased a home at The Sea Ranch and it has this amazing, black, modern, wood-burning stove.” But as anyone who’s ever hauled logs into their home one by one, especially on cold, snowy days, the drudgery can really put a chill on that warm cozy fire. That’s how Ubi was inspired to create his Log Bag. “Its heavy-weight denim and thick leather straps really make the task of carrying wood in from the log pile much easier, and it looks great too. My daughter also just showed me how it can double as a puppy carrier in a pinch - multifunctional indeed!”

His daughter isn't the only one who loves the Log Bag. As Oprah says in the December 2020 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, "This leather-handled denim carrier—made in California by a fashion designer obsessed with the versatile fabric—will manage heavy loads and look quite handsome next to your hearth."

While Mi Cocina has come a long way since its San Francisco start, there is plenty more on the horizon. “We are currently working on an exciting new endeavor to outfit three restaurants and one hotel, as well as an amazing collaboration with a well-known artist’s estate. 

No doubt Ubi is someone to look out for in the future. If you want to know more about Ulrich Simpson and Mi Cocina Denim follow them on Instagram @shopmicocina.