Aloha Hula Supply brings vibrant designs to dance competitions

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 20 2014 10:39:26 PM HST

Aloha Hula Supply in Kalihi creates a variety of apparel for Tahitian and hula dancers in Hawaii.

HONOLULU -

Aloha Hula Supply is tucked away on a Kalihi side street a stone's throw from a jailhouse, but the vibrant colors on the chain-link fence are what really catch the eye.

Click here for Catherine Cruz's report.

The hula skirts are hand dyed in 20 different colors, a dazzling array of shades and hues including bubblegum.

“They come to me natural. We take it to bleach and then color and we ship them all over the world Tahiti, Japan, France, California, Australia -- all over," said Sue Eldredge of Aloha Hula Supply.

Eldredge started as a customer. Years later, she is the boss. In January she was stunned to see she sold a record 800 hula skirts. She credits the artistic hands around her who have been busy filling orders during this high season of pacific island dance.

"I have wonderful workers who work diligently every day. It is all done by hand there is no machinery nothing to dip it for them. They do it all by hand -- our uluulu -- so it’s quite the process," said Eldredge.

There are racks and racks of gourds for dancers to choose from as they prepare for competition. All hand carved and hand painted by skilled artisans committed to keeping dancers dressed to impress from Waikiki showrooms to back yard parties in Waianae.

"Our costuming has grown quite a bit in the last two or three years,” said Eldredge. “We develop hip bands and head hays and we have designed for specific shows depending on their color and sizes. We can do that for anybody.”

Some of the hula implements do come from abroad. There just are not enough locally to meet the demand, but Eldredge says she picks up what she can from across the state.

"We do bring in products from Taiwan and the Philippines, but we do support lots of local artisans as well and I am proud of that fact," she said.

Aloha Hula Supply fills a need that is growing in the islands.

You can catch some of those skirts in action at the Tahitian Heiva which brings together dancers from across the Pacific. The two-day competition opens at the Waikiki shell Friday, starting at 9 a.m.

In April, you can catch more of Eldredge’s supply when hula halau take to the stage for the Merrie Monarch festival. 

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