Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
It’s In the Bag: Cali Coastal 70s Vibes

Every month I have the honor of driving to Esalen and passing through the small towns of Los Olivos, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay. Traveling up the Central Coast of California presents unique opportunities to stop and savor the sights, sounds, and tastes of these communities.

On one such occasion, I stopped for a much-needed coffee in San Luis Obispo, and my eye spied a tote bag I simply couldn’t resist. As I placed my new purchase in the driver’s seat of my car, I felt drawn to incorporate these tote bags into Esalen’s product selection. So, the journey began, and I started to find out who was behind these artistic, whimsical bags. As with many stories, curiosity was key as I dug deeper to find the value and meaning behind the brand.

Calling on Vintage Vibes

Jenna Bee Handmade was founded in 2015 by Jenna Cady. One of her first curated items was the African Mudcloth Tote Bag, which is available in assorted colors and patterns. It’s made in California from recycled materials.  

African Mudcloth is a textile made from pieces of cotton fabric. It is dyed and covered multiple times with mud by artisans, creating a unique pattern. It is said that each mudcloth pattern has an intended story, which is part of the mystique when owning a mudcloth item.

Each tote bag has a strap crafted from repurposed, adjustable 70s leather belts. The vintage vibes continue with a waterproof waxed canvas bottom and canvas interior featuring two, large pockets that can accommodate your phone and our Wave Teal water bottle. You keep it all with a magnetic snap.

Close up of vintage belt strap and canvas bottom on Jenna Bee handmade African Mudcloth tote bags

Infusing Coastline Treasures

Having been inspired by vintage textiles, Jenna designs each bag from her travels through Central California Coast flea markets and thrift stores. I felt a connection to her desire to take what was once loved, yet discarded, and turn it into something new.

Each tote bag is unique due to Jenna’s process of creation and the textile’s origin. Personally, I love that each tote purchased through Esalen is one-of-a-kind treasure, reimagining the original artist’s creation. 

Journey On

However you choose to enjoy your African Mudcloth Tote Bag will be up to you. Listen to the energy vibes in the bag or create your own story by taking your tote with you on a new adventure. There is no wrong way… only your way to journey on.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?

When you make a purchase through our online or retail store you are supporting Esalen. All purchase dollars go back into the care of this astonishing land. Find these totes and other products in our online store and bring Esalen home.



Heather Martin

Heather Martin is the Buyer and Visual Merchandiser for Esalen’s retail and online space. As a certified Reiki Master Teacher with experience in many facets of retail, Heather layers her ability to create beautiful spaces with her love of wellness.