Meet the Maker: Phadet from Bangkok 🇹🇭

Meet the Maker: Phadet from Bangkok 🇹🇭

Mexicali owners Pete and Kim met Phadet over 20 years ago in the renowned Chatachuck Weekend Market, recognized as the busiest market in Thailand. We call Phadet the “king of patterns.” His unique, exotic prints of elephants, peacocks, and mandalas reflect the majestic nature and colorful culture of Thailand.  

The first time that Pete and Kim met Phadet was in 1998. They were 8,000 miles and twelve time zones away from home. They had traded in their dollars for baht, exchanged snow for sunshine, and were on the hunt for groovy goods in the “Land of Smiles.”...

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What Are Tibetan Prayer Flags? An Ancient Way to Spread Good Vibes 💫

What Are Tibetan Prayer Flags? An Ancient Way to Spread Good Vibes 💫

When the tradition of hanging Tibetan prayer flags began more than 2000 years ago, Tibet was ruled by warlords who carried their own flags into battle. The native people took this as their inspiration but spun the intent on its axis when they made their own flags to honor the nature gods of Bon...

In the 7th century, Buddhism largely took the place of Bon, absorbing many of its characteristics including the flags, and bringing the new ideals of peace and compassion...

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Pete and Kim with one of our Batik Textile Designers in Bali, Indonesia.

As the world gets smaller and our story gets longer, customers sometimes ask why an item in our store costs what it does. And that’s a great question! When you are importing handmade, one-of-a-kind objects from all over the world, pricing can get complicated. So we do our best to keep everything super-simple.

We set our prices to always give the best value, and those prices always reflect our values.

We’re committed to supporting the craftsmanship, culture, and communities of the countries we buy from while providing our patrons with fabulous handcrafted fashion and accessories at the most competitive price.

That means we may not always have the cheapest price. The thing is, the cheapest price is almost always extremely unfair to someone down the line. 


We have four rules for fair pricing:

1. Pay Artists and Artisans Well for Their Work

“When I’m on a buying trip abroad, I never try to bargain down a price,” Pete explains. “Not ever. This shocks vendors at first; they expect western buyers to bargain aggressively. When you ask someone for their price and you respect their answer, you build a real relationship based on trust and, in my experience, you get a better deal in the end. We have built a reputation as fair buyers and everyone brings us their best price right from the start.”

“One of the fastest ways to cut an item’s price is to lower the wages of the workers producing it– or their ages,” adds Kim. “We will never sell anything made with child labor. We insist that all of our makers pay and earn a fair living wage. The artisans we support are keeping their communities—and their national economies—healthy. That’s worth paying for.”

2. Only Buy the Best

“We shop hard when we travel!” Kim says. “We’re not going to trade shows, because we want to see how the things we buy are made. We’re going into all the shops in the local markets and we’re visiting our maker’s shops and studios. We want to be sure our goods are unique, authentic, sustainable, ethical, and durable. When you see for yourself how much work, skill, tradition, and inspiration go into a hand-stamped batik, you know what you are paying for, and why.”

“Every once in a while a customer will say they have seen the same item cheaper somewhere else,” adds Kim. “But when you look closely, they’ve seen a similar item—but it wasn’t Fair Trade Certified, or sustainable, or handmade like so many of our products are.”

“If something is cheap but it falls apart quickly, did you really save any money?” Pete asks. “Knock-offs and imitations will always cost less. We only sell the real deal. That’s how you keep a beautiful and ancient cultural tradition like batik alive—you don’t accept cheaper substitutes. You can see and feel the difference in thread counts, materials, weaves, and finishes when you are holding the real thing. That feeling—and the objects that inspire it—will last. And I think that’s worth paying for.”

3. Share Our Profits with Our People

“We don’t just pay the people we buy from well,” Pete continues. “We give the whole Mexicali Blues team great wages and benefits, too—with perks like flexible time off for travel that you don’t often see in a retail job. The customer service experience everyone raves about in our stores and online is at the heart of Mexicali Blues. We price our products to support that happy, healthy work environment.”

4. Give 1% of Our Proceeds Back

“We donate a full one percent of our sales, not just our profits, to good causes in our own communities and in the countries we source from,” Pete adds. “Every single year we give tens of thousands of dollars to organizations doing good work here and abroad. [In years past] we supported earthquake relief in Nepal through prayer flag sales, protected young girls in Thailand from traffickers, invested in our local schools, contributed to conservation areas, sponsored arts organizations, and much, much more.”

“The World of Goods program really keeps the good vibes going,” Kim agrees. “We support affordable housing in Guatemala by donating the sales of beautiful beaded bracelets, and I’m really excited to see how our generous customers respond.”

How else do we keep prices fair? We fill our stores with a mix of products in a range of price points so that everyone who comes in can find something awesome that they can afford. And we have fantastic sales! You might have gotten lucky with our Labor Day sale, but if you missed that one, keep an eye out for the Early Bird discounts for the holidays! That will start soon, so you can get a jump on holiday shopping! If you’re not signed up to receive our emails, that’s truly the best way to know when the deals start.

That vibe in our stores that everyone can’t get enough of? That’s the fair price feeling. Shopping is a lot more fun when you know that everyone is getting a good deal!

The Happy Buddha: Symbolism across Cultures

The Happy Buddha: Symbolism across Cultures

The jolly laughing Buddha is based on an eccentric Chinese monk who lived over 1,000 years ago–a benevolent and joyous man who came to be regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the “world teacher”.  The laughing Buddha is known in China as the Loving or Friendly One, and his image graces many temples, restaurants, and amulets as a deity of abundance and contentment. He always has a big and friendly grin, as well as a largely exposed pot belly stomach, which symbolizes good luck, joy, and prosperity. While laughing Buddha consistently has these qualities, there are several different variations to bring an abundance of all kinds into your life.

As Buddhism has become popular in countries all over the world it remains a predominant spiritual belief in Asia. It is practiced in China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, and many more countries. Here in the US it is said that Hawaii has the highest population of Buddhists.

Let's dive into the different forms of Buddha that we see around the world!


The Spiritual Journey Buddha carries a gourd of enlightenment in one hand, a fan in the other, and wears a necklace of prayer beads. The fan is a symbol of happiness and joy used to banish troubles and misfortune, while the prayer beads (also known as mala beads) represent a consistent meditation practice and mindfulness in daily life.

The Traveling Buddha is ready for adventure and is often toted as a talisman for safety in travel.  There are several variations of this worldly Buddha.  The Traveling Wu Lou Buddha carries with him the gourd of enlightenment, a wealth ball, and a sack which he uses to collect people’s sadness and woes. It is said that the sack, or ‘Hotei’, transmutes all of that negative energy into wealth and good fortune!  The wealth ball is sometimes seen as a pearl and symbolizes the most valuable ‘pearls’ of all treasures: wisdom and health.

The Traveling Music Buddha is sure to attract new and wonderous experiences and ensures they will be met with as much exuberance as one would have when dancing to their favorite songs.  He also carries a sack for transmuting troubles, wears enlightening mala beads, and carries a small ukulele to bring joy with his beautiful music!

The Safe Travels Buddha is a protective deity and carries with him his Hotei sack and wealth ball, to bring joy, prosperity, and wisdom in your travels.


The Abundance Buddha and Prosperity Buddha

While all happy Buddhas bring an abundance of good things, some are specifically focused on attracting a wealth of money, love, and spirit.  The Buddha of prosperity can be sitting or standing; either way, he holds two wealth balls over his head in a victorious stance, ready to WIN at all aspects of life!

There is another variation of the Buddha of prosperity who carries the Ru-Yi pot of abundance, as well as a talisman to Nepal which attracts wealth and worldly wisdom.

The Buddha of good health and abundance carries a Ru-Yi pot to attract prosperity, a wealth ball to bring abundance and good health, and he wears prayer beads to maintain a connection to mindfulness and spirituality.  His compatriot, the abundance Buddha holds a Ru-Yi “bowl of plenty” high above his head to attract wealth, health, and wisdom.

The happy Buddhas are also sometimes meditating or simply sitting and being jolly, to attract luck and prosperity.  It is said that rubbing the belly of Happy Buddha will bring good fortune to you with even more speed and strength!  Try carrying one with you as a lucky talisman or place a few in your home; the bright smile and positive energy attraction of happy Buddha just might bring some surprising goodness your way!

 Mexicali Blues Buddha Backflow Incense Burner

If you're looking for other home decor items or accessories to bring you the peacefulness that symbol of Buddha carries you can shop the full collection here!



A lifelong traveler, Carly Erskine has been traveling with her parents, Mexicali co-owners Pete and Kim, since she was just a baby. With 20-something years of experience traveling and a solid preference for backpacks over wheel-y suitcases, she’s gotten packing light down to an art, even when venturing to three countries with very different climates on one trip. Wherever she’s headed, however, she always has a handful of essential items:

  • Comfy shoes that slide on and off easily in the airport security lines. Crocs aren’t the prettiest shoes in the world, but Carly loves their easy fit and that the holes on them drain easily when she’s traipsing through countries that have daily downpours!
  • E-reader. Traditional books are wonderful and we hope they never go away, but the lightweight capability of an e-reader to bring along a whole library full of books in one slim package is much appreciated when traveling light!
  • A head-lamp. Invaluable when camping, or walking at night in rural areas with lots of potholes and no street lights!
  • A large-brimmed hat. This gets used in every country Carly travels to! Even though it can feel colder in the mountains of Nepal than the balmy tropics of Thailand, higher elevations do put you closer to the sun, so it’s easy to get sunburned there too, if you’re not careful.
  • Snacks, headphones, and a neck pillow. These are the little things that make a long journey so much more pleasant. Tissues are also essential when traveling in countries that don’t traditionally use toilet paper.
  • Patches of some of the places Carly's been. A long plane ride always seems like the time they're actually going to get sewn on, but it hasn't quite happened yet! 
  • Climbing gear. An avid climber, Carly's always on the lookout for awesome rocks and cliffs to scale.
  • Entertaining games. This cribbage board goes everywhere Carly goes, and she’s played with friends from and in all parts of the world. A souvenir of where she’s been as well as a way to pass the time on long train rides, she keeps a running list of where she plays each game and the scores on the back of this board.
  • A Steal Your State frisbee. Carly loves meeting people through starting up a game of frisbee. Adults and kids all get in on the fun. Even when there is a bit of a language barrier, she loves connecting with those she meets through the universal communication of smiles and play!

    Whatever else Carly travels with, these essential items are always along for the journey! What do YOU never travel without?

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