Aloha Hula Supply Shows Passion for Handmade Implements & Products

Living808

Honolulu (KHON2) – Aloha Hula Supply, the largest supplier of Hula and Polynesian implements and costumes welcomed Living808 for a tour to see how supplies are made by hand.

Aloha Hula Supply is proud sponsor of this year’s Prince Lot Hula Festival Program, which will be a virtual event airing on KHON2 Thursday, October 28th at 7pm.

Aloha Hula Supply is a 75-year-old business that started with B.K. Kop who opened Hula Supply Center back in 1946 and eventually turned it over to his two sons.  His son Steven in 1998, then created Aloha Hula Supply located in Kalihi with many of the original store employees. Sue Eldredge, originally a customer of the store, started managing it in 2009 and bought the business in 2013.  Later that year, the business moved to its current location in the Salt Lake / Bougainville industrial area.

Sue and her daughter Kelina, who is store manager and Miss Aloha Hula 2017 talked about their passion for hula.

“Our two top sellers are Tahitian/hau skirts and ‘ulī‘ulī – both of which are manufactured right here in our warehouse,” says Sue. “The Tahitian skirts are brought in from the South Pacific but are bleached, hand dipped, dyed to 20 different colors and then dried in the sun daily.  On average we sell approximately 5,000+ skirts a year.  These can be seen for example on the Merrie Monarch stage to Tahitian Heiva competitions all around the world. We sell every skirt we make.”

She adds, “Each one of our ‘ulī‘ulī are also handcrafted right here.  There are about 15+ steps to make each side from drilling, cleaning, sanding, painting the la‘amia (gourd), to prepping and sewing of the feathers and then fastening it all together. We just cannot make them fast enough and so are often backordered, but guarantee each one is made especially for you with lots of aloha.  This is just not something we feel we can automate without losing the quality of our ‘ulī‘ulī.”

When you visit Aloha Hula Supply,  you can stop and take a look into the 5000 sq ft working warehouse to see part of the magic that happens…  ‘ulī‘ulī being made at various stages right in front of your eyes.  Continuing upstairs, you will see costumes being hand sewn, ipu and ipu heke gourds everywhere and then you enter the large retail store housing all things a Polynesian dancer would need … flowers, lei, implements, skirts, costume supplies and more.  In Sue’s words, “It is almost like a candy store for dancers!”

The mother-daughter duo feels a kuleana or responsibility in what they do to make sure this business survives. 

Aloha Hula Supply currently has fifteen employees of which five are Hawaiian and ten are of Laotian descent.  All are longtime employees and are true lovers of the culture and master craftsmen with their own specialties including: feather sewers, hand costumers, ‘ulī‘ulī implement makers, dyers and an ipu heke maker. 

Address:  4369 Lawehana St, A2 Honolulu, HI 96818

Website: alohahulasupply.com

Social Media Handles:  

FB: Aloha Hula Supply

INSTAGRAM: @alohahulasupply

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