Our story includes a number of different strands laced together:
Rod McHugh has had a long association with Karandonis Shoes, which was founded in 1968 by the skilled shoemaker, John Karandonis. The brand soon became well known for its quality and style, and was stocked in all major department stores. Rod and John became business partners between 1985 and 1996, and Rod continued to manage the brand within Australia until 2007.
Rod is the third generation of his family to be in the shoes business. His grandfather, Francis McHugh started a boot repair business in Rozelle, Sydney in 1911. The business was then continued on by Rod’s father Frank, who joined the business in 1925. Over the years the business expanded from repairs to selling shoes and opened four more stores in Drummoyne, Gladesville, Ryde & Carlingford.
Rod’s work in the family business started when he was in primary school. He used to clean out the repairer’s dust bins at the workshop at Rozelle on Fridays after school. He then graduated to “front of house” and had a sales job on Saturday mornings at the Drummoyne store.
After receiving a Commonwealth scholarship to study at University, Rod joined the family business full-time when he finished a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of NSW.
Sadly in 1976, Rod’s father Frank died suddenly and Rod took over the family business at 28. Frank was very well respected in the footwear industry and gave Rod a great grounding in the business.
One thing Rod has loved over the years in this industry has been the camaraderie and advice of his fellow shoe men
Rod’s daughter, Annie McHugh grew up in the footwear industry. Although she has a marketing background, her heart is in shoe design and fit. She studied footwear production and has taught introductory pattern making and retail footwear classes at the Sydney Institute of TAFE.
Annie managed the retail store on Elizabeth Street since 2001 and is a member of the Australian Pedorthic Medical Grade Footwear Association.
She has provided some of her designs for the Australian Opera costume department, Miss Connie of Sneaky Sound System, Belvoir Street Theatre performances and numerous television shows.
Annie made a pair of vegan slippers for Tobey Maguire in The Great Gatsby.
Recently, Annie has started a Bachelor of Podiatry at the University Of Newcastle and aims to incorporate physiology into her shoe designs.
In December 2011 things came full circle and McHugh's returned to the inner west when Rod and family opened a warehouse and shop in Leichhardt. Here they wholesale and retail Bernard men's shoes, Bartalesi Italian Shoes and other European brands as well as making shoes to order and doing repairs.