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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.