After a global adventure and becoming a motor mechanic, returning home led me to the family’s shoemaking legacy. Now, 34 years later, I’m captivated daily by the intricate art of shoemaking, especially the problem-solving aspect and witnessing the culmination of our hard work.
What inspired you to become a shoemaker, and how did you get started in the industry?
After finishing school, I qualified as a motor mechanic then headed to London and spent 5 years living and working in Europe and seeing the world. I met my wife over there and we decided it was time to come home, and needed a job. 34 years on, I’m still here.
Can you walk us through your typical day at McKinlays Footwear?
Arrive about 7am clear emails, sort out daily problems, deal with customers, fix machines, deal with any technical issues, dealing with contacts in Spain and Italy to source machinery and materials when required, and make shoes.
What do you think sets McKinlays Footwear apart from other shoe brands?
We are one of the oldest companies in New Zealand that is still owned and run by the same family, 5th generation. Our construction is a very old and labour-intensive approach which sets it apart from many of the imported shoes that are sold in NZ.
What is your favourite part of the shoemaking process and why?
Problem solving and seeing the finished product.
What’s the strangest shoe trend that you’ve seen?
Can you share a little-known fact about shoemaking or the shoemaking industry that people may not be aware of?
When people come into the factory for the first time, most are amazed by how labour intensive it is and how much work goes into making shoes, and the skills of our staff.