Friday, February 20, 2009

Twenty thousand and counting

The Into The Wind Hata has been made and sold by Into The Wind since 1983 (almost since the very beginning). Inspired by Japan's Nagasaki Hata, it was designed by ITW's owner, George Emmons. It made its debut in the 1983 Catalog of Kites as the "Wind Tracer" for $11.50. At the time, George was cutting and framing the kites at home and Jim Glass (George's partner who passed away in 1997) was sewing them at the store. It's hard to say what color the kite was back then because the 1983 catalog was mostly black and white and there's no mention of the color choices.

In 1985, the color photograph on page 28 of the catalog featured the red solid color (still the most popular variation) Hata for $12.50. Overwhelmed with business (and with too little time to make the kites) the Hata was left out of the next few catalogs. Jim and George were still making a handful to sell in the retail store but not enough to fill mail order demand. In 1988, with the help of a local seamstress, it was once again included in the catalog for $12.90 and a choice of colors: red, hot pink and fluorescent orange. It was the '80's after all.

In 1992, we introduced the first Into The Wind Hata variation, the Windmill Hata, with panels in multiple colors for $16.95 and switched up the colors of the solids, always keeping red but discontinuing the hot pink and fluorescent orange in favor of lime, neon blue and raspberry. Around 1995, with sales of Hatas exceeding 1,000 per year, Stan Swanson, (designer of the Elephant kite) took over production. Over the next ten or 11 years, we introduced limited edition variations including the red, white and blue USA Windmill Hata, the black and white Crystal Hata, and the tie-dyed Rainbow Hata. We added purple and gold to the solid color offerings in 2001.

In 2008, we shook things up again when availability of the spreader that we'd been purchasing for years from Glasforms was essentially discontinued. We'd been buying the spars in three-year quantities but balked when they demanded we purchase a ten year supply. So, the Hata was redesigned for the first time, made just slightly larger to accommodate a stock 3/32" spar instead of the special order spar. We also introduced two new graphics courtesy of Christoph Fokken: the Kensei Hata and Color Wheel Hata.

Unfortunately, Stan Swanson's kite production capabilities proved inadequate for the demand generated by these new designs. He's continuing to make the solid colors for us in 2009 but we've moved production of the Kensei and Color Wheel Hatas, along with two of our fighter kites, the Korean Fighter and George Peters' Indian Fighter to Heads Up in San Diego. Originally employed by Top of the Line Kites (manufacturers of the Hawaiian Team Kite and Spinoff) back in the day, Heads Up is Mike Dennis and Pam Kirk. They've been keeping "Made in the USA" alive and well for kites for the last 15 years. We're thrilled to partner with them and look forward to having our bestselling Hatas in stock all year! Efficiencies in production and materials have helped us to keep the Hata affordable. It's only $19 including line in our 2009 Into The Wind Kites & Wind Art Catalog.

Over the years, we've sold upwards of 20,000 Hatas, multiples to some customers that love it as much as we do. That's just one of the reasons it's our staff favorite. We recommend it all the time and think of it as our "one in a million" kite. And that's not too far off since we're at 20,000 and counting.

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