Brighton-based Luke Hamblin & Mylinh Nguyen launched The Upward Bird Bakery in Brighton in April 2020, during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Originally intended as a fresh bread delivery service between friends, it has grown to include customers from the wider community. They believe the perfect notebook should have the structure for equal parts creativity and organisation – and as a result, have become avid fans of Mark+Fold for the past few years.
They are lucky enough to have a workspace that is filled with the smell of freshly baking bread, which is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most wonderful olfactory treats. Who could resist? Alas, we’ve parked our jealousy of their workplace aroma to ask them a few questions about how they manage to create magnificent baked goods alongside their day-jobs and raising a young family. Introducing Luke and Mylinh as part of our Face Behind the Workspace series.
Hand-stamped and hand-written labels at the Upward Bird Bakery in Brighton
What’s the best workspace you’ve ever had?
Definitely our current ‘workspace’. We live a stone’s throw from the sea, in a converted townhouse flat in central Brighton. We are very fortunate that our living space can also accommodate all of our creative endeavours – such as family life, baking and weaving. Our workspace is constantly evolving to fit with our changing needs. From the moment we became parents, we realised that we wanted parenthood to be a significant aspect of our work and creative pursuits.
The building is on fire — what single item do you grab from your desk?
Our bakery notebook! It contains all our learning over the years and documents everything, including the mistakes to the successes.
What is your stationery guilty pleasure?
We are not sure if it is a guilty pleasure or more of a confession. We love keeping the receipts and invoices from independent brands we work with or buy from. The level of detail and personal attention that goes into each one fills us with joy – from the handwritten notes to the occasional embossed letterhead.
Hand-stamped labels inspired by Luke & Mylinh's collection of paper ephemera
Do you have any routines or rituals that make you feel organised?
We have a loose daily rhythm, but organisation is key for us in order to balance our family, employed work and the bakery. Keeping notes of our appointments and schedules are necessary, but using different methods. For our employed work (in addition to the bakery, Luke works full-time, and Mylinh works two days a week) we keep to our Outlook calendar; for family activities, we use the Mark+Fold 2022 Wall Planner; and for our baking schedule, we use the Mark+Fold Week Planner.
What helps you concentrate?
Sleep and caffeine, even though the two cancel each other out! Obviously, sleep is a little bit trickier to manage when parenting two young children, when neither of them deem sleep as important!
The weekly baking schedule on the Mark+Fold Week Planner
The Mark+Fold 2022 Wall Planner charting the family's activities
Detail of the 2022 Wall Planner
What career advice would you give to your teenage self?
No career is set in stone. We think that asking a child the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” sets them up to think that they should follow one particular vocational path and feel like a failure if you end up pivoting away from it. All opportunities add up to experiences. Some are given to you and for others, you’ll need to work hard to achieve them.
What is your earliest memory of paper?
(Mylinh) For me, my earliest memory of paper was sitting around the kitchen table with my mum and two sisters, watching our mum fold pieces of paper into the shape of boats. There was something really special about these boats, so when it came to coming up with the packaging ideas for the Upward Bird Bakery, we decided we wanted to utilise what we already have. All of our tart boxes are made from folding a simple piece of 250x250mm cartridge paper.
Tart boxes are made from a single 250x250mm sheet of cartridge paper
What inspires you?
The fact that our work allows us the freedom of creativity and being able to experiment. With each bake, we are constantly learning and adapting to new variables, be it quantity or differences in the ingredients and/or environment. It’s so rewarding to be able to share what we have produced with our family, friends and local community.
What aspect of your work are you most proud of?
We started our bakery in April 2020, with about twelve friends and a WhatsApp group. We asked them all in the WhatsApp chat to respond to a list of baked products that they’d like to order. At that time, we didn’t consider quantity or even packaging. We just had our domestic oven and fridge, so Luke would spend the whole night awake, baking 1 loaf at a time using the Dutch oven. With regards to the packaging, fortunately due to Mylinh’s love of hoarding textiles, we had sewing tissue paper and linen yarn lying around that we used to wrap the bread. In hindsight we were definitely not prepared, we went from only baking bread for ourselves to baking and delivering to people. Now we have a whole community of customers that come to our bakery. We’re so pleased with what we’ve managed to achieve already.
The daily bread at Upward Bird Bakery
Mylunh and Luke's picks from the Mark+Fold range