What’s in a name? EVERYTHING! And in 1979 Seattle’s Kathy Goodwin made sure of that by adding a “d” at the urging of her husband – right after the judge who’d just divorced them offered her a free name change. Known for her kite shops, Suspended Elevations and Gasworks Park Kite Shop; wholesale kite manufacturing business, Goodwind’s Kites; and kite supplies business, Goodwind’s Parts, Kathy Goodwind is recognized as a force that fueled kiting for over 40 years. Here’s a brief look at what makes a ‘Goodwind’ a ‘Goodwind’ and the scoop on how to score some of her hand-made originals up for purchase soon!
How did you get into kiting?
As a chemist at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital in the mid-1970s, I started kibitzing with the head of Microbiology during my break one afternoon and we took a walk around Gasworks Park. Amidst the backdrop of this old rusty shuttered gasification plant flew a wonderful blue butterfly kite! Shortly afterward, I wound up in Ken Conrad’s Great Winds kite shop. Ken answered a bunch of my questions and set me straight on kitemaking materials.
While working with Ken at Great Winds’ new warehouse, I came across a kite skin – an eight-pointed star from the White Birds Kite Co. I took measurements, went home, and designed one, only instead of straight edges, I made curved edges. That kite became known as the Rainbow Aerial Star. Before long, Ken started ordering them 12 at a time, and the next thing I knew the kite was on the cover of a major department store’s Winter Whites catalog.
With inspiration from the book Seven Sisters, I made my first kite from Tyvek and took it down to Great Winds to learn how to bridle it. When Ken found out I could sew, he asked me to work with him on a 15ft Koi windsock that would be flown from Seattle’s Smith Tower.
Soon after, the interior designers of Pizza Hut asked me to make kites for their West Coast locations. Long about 1978, I left my job in the chem lab and started a viable business at a studio in Seattle’s University District and eventually moved to a studio right above Gasworks Park. During all my years in business, I moved six times, just following the cheap rent.
What makes a kite an unmistakable Kathy Goodwind?
Goodwind kites are quite different from others. Among others, they include the Rainbow Aerial Star, Asteroid, Starflake, Fighter Kites, the Super Nova, and the PopKan kite (created by my son, Todd). He also designed the Boa’s, a convertible wrist strap. Goodwinds are known for the curved edges, as a good curved outside edge reduces drag and enables a kite to fly at a higher angle.
What’s a good way to get started in kite making?
Our award-winning products included full-size kite patterns. I still have quite a few, including a 6ft. delta, a diamond that can be single line or dual line, and patterns for large and small stunt kites. They are just like clothing patterns, and I highly recommend them. Interested parties can reach me at Goodwinds@aol.com. There are also some wonderful kite patterns available on the internet. Start with simple ones first.
How can one acquire one of your handmade originals?
I no longer produce kites myself nor does anyone make them. I let the patent on the PopKan run out after 17 years and recently notice they are being made in Asia. I do have a handful of original self-made kites in my kite bag. They’re in pretty good condition, and since I won’t be flying too much anymore due to a back condition, they will be available for purchase online sometime in Nov. 2022.
This year I turned 78 and found I have a limited amount of energy. So, while you may still see me at a kite festival, I’ll no longer be running on the beach. Over the last 12 years I’ve moved from kiting to sculpting and am currently enrolled in a sculpture atelier. Once my fingers touched clay, I knew I was in a calming and soothing place!