Skynasoars started life in February 1992. Jim Rowlands , its founder was already well known in UK, Europe and USA for his three books on kite design and construction published 1988-92 . As a kite entrepreneur, he had also promoted a number of large festivals in UK, principally in York which had attracted enthusiasts from USA and Europe. Also by this time interest on the sport of flying kites had grown rapidly and there was plenty of room for both innovation and new manufacturers.
Initially, both design and manufacture were concentrated on the development and production of smaller steerable parafoils, but we soon grew into one of the leading suppliers of large inflatable display kites – which were regularly seen at large kite festivals – in UK, Europe, USA, Middle East and Far East. Our “Le Frog” a design featured in the book “Soft Kites and Windsocks” was by far the most popular.
The good times, such as they were, came to an abrupt end in spring 2000 when almost all world wide manufacture of kites had moved to China, with a very obvious affect of prices. Rather close down, as many of our contemporaries had been forced, the summer months were spent seeking how we could use our design, manufacturing skills and facilities to pursue new markets.
On the suggestion of a good friend, Paul Tierney, we rebranded using the name”Skynasoars” which aptly described our proposed new product range – dancing inflatable sculptures – two leg figure character sculptures, made from lightweight fabrics, with large diameter fans at their base Developed during the early 1990’s independently both in USA and Scandinavia, Paul had seen them on almost every street corner, during his two year stay in California , promoting everything from baths, to bedrooms, and it seemed to be a promising venture. Unfortunately despite our research, and a year devoted to product development, we found to our cost, that what might be successful in US may not be so in England and our fingers were badly burnt. Not only because of limited demand but a large bad debt when one of our customers went into liquidation.
So, broke and disappointed, we started again. As kite makers we had often been asked to make ”feather banners”, tall flags supported by a single tapered pole to one side, made in bright colours with sponsors logos and other branding, first seen in UK in the mid 1980s. Most were made using a technique known as appliqué, hand cut panels of rip stop nylon sewn on to a base fabric, As a works of art we could probably sell them and become very successful, but for branding at events and festivals, they had to be made to a price, not a quality. Paul Tierney came to our rescue again and put us in touch with a contact who was making traditional flags, using one of the recently introduced, wide bed digital printing machines . These first ones looked like large desk top printers ( they still do !). But this was our opportunity.
We were, at the time, 2001, one of only two companies in UK, offering digitally printed branded feather flags which became popular for a wide variety of festivals and events, and our sales rocketed. We took on two new employees and moved to larger premises . Our most popular kite designs were licensed to a company in USA and we never looked back.
In 2005 , having been unable to source a reliable pole system to hang our feather banners, we approached a manufacturer in China who made fishing poles, which are very similar to those we required. He came up with the perfect solution, which has since evolved into many styles and is now exported world wide
This new design was much stronger, durable, easier to assemble, qualities which we lacked previously, which gave us an additional springboard into the market place. Demand increased and we grew substantially during the next three years. 2006 saw the introduction of the Skynasoars own Parabola which has proved a phonomenal success with sales in excess of 1000.
Skynasoars also introduced a range of Windsocks for industrial use, specifically oil, gas and refrigeration units where flammable vapour is used, and a wind direction indicator is required. A large number are now exported to northern africa and the middle east. Fabrics are now woven and dyed to our specification, to ensure durability and colour retention.
By 2010, many more companies had moved into the market offering similar products, not only from UK but also Europe and China, who now manufacture about 60-80 % of the flags sold world wide. Skynasoars has held its place in the UK market, diversifying the product ranges by establishing partnership and licensing agreements with a number of companies in UK, Europe and South Africa.