How Dr. Liza Egbogah Started a Celeb-Approved Supportive Shoe Business

Dr. Liza Shoes launched in 2017 and have been seen on the feet of celebs like Viola Davis and Kate Winslet
Dr. Liza Egbogah (Photo: Osato Erebor)

Growing up, Dr. Liza Egbogah was an often-injured track-and-field athlete with a desire to heal people’s ailments—including her own knee pain and plantar fasciitis. Her interests led her to study health sciences at the University of Alberta and then the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto. In 2017, by then a chiropractor and osteopath, Egbogah launched Dr. Liza Shoes, a collection of orthopedic high heels meant to correct posture and alleviate joint pain. Since launching, her business has grown to include loafers, sneakers and shoulder bags, and have been worn by many different types of professionals who want to look and feel good at work, including celebrities like Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra.

Title: Chiropractor and founder of Dr. Liza Shoes

Degree: Doctor of Chiropractic, Doctor of Osteopathy

Age: 42

From: Calgary

Currently lives in: Toronto

When I was a kid, I thought I’d grow up to be: A doctor, but I had no idea which kind. When I would see people in pain, I would tell them that one day I would heal them.

My favourite childhood memory: Reading works from my uncle, the African author Chinua Achebe. In one of his books, There Was A Country, I learned that my great-great-grandfather had been the healer in his village in Nigeria. When I started talking about being a doctor, my family called me the golden child because I was supposedly following in his footsteps. At the time, I thought they had just given me the nickname because I had blonde hair.

The biggest takeaway from my education: Learning how to effectively do research. It’s important to do your own research when you have questions and not simply take things at face value.

My first job ever was: A sales associate at the Gap when I was 15. I was book-smart but shy, and that job taught me how to come out of my shell and sell. That year, my family went to Barbados on a holiday cruise, and I stayed behind to work because I feared getting laid off. My family still teases me about that, but I maintain that I would not be an entrepreneur today if not for that job.

A significant challenge I had to overcome: Covid was devastating for my business. It curtailed our sourcing and weakened the Canadian dollar, and the pausing of office life really impacted shoe sales. Last year was still tough: A recession loomed and people were pulling back on spending. I’m grateful that we survived—I know far too many businesses that didn’t make it.

My most influential mentor was: My parents. My dad mostly paid his college tuition by making wooden toys and selling them on the side of the street in Nigeria, and he eventually became an engineer. My mother was a teacher who also earned her MBA and real-estate license when she wanted to save up for a house. Their motto is: There is always a way.

Something that really needs to change in my industry is: Comfort washing: shoes with tons of cushioning that feel good on the feet but ruin posture and lead to injuries. I’ve treated many people who developed avulsion fractures to their ankles just from walking on thick-soled foamy shoes that make the feet slide in unnatural ways.

The moment I knew I’d made it: As a chiropractor, I opened a pop-up treatment clinic at Toronto International Film Festival, after an actor patient of mine encouraged me to do it. As it turns out, several A-listers were interested in treatment: George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Idris Alba all came to the pop-up, to name a few. It’s a tough job—every actor I’ve treated has been in significant physical pain. I also treated the actor who played the hunchback from Harry Potter. Unsurprisingly, he was suffering from chronic back pain.

Another significant moment for the business was when I was on Dragon’s Den in 2021. Seeing the Dragons strut in my prototypes was incredible. And then Manjit Minhas ended up investing $200,000 in my company.

Related: How to Pitch Your Start-up to Investors

One thing I was forced to learn the hard way: Manufacturing was tough to nail down—I knew nothing about it. In the early days of launching Dr. Liza Shoes, I received many shipments with faulty products because I hadn’t been specific enough in my directives. Whole shipments came to me from Brazil in the wrong colour or with the wrong buckles.

The thing that keeps me motivated is: Seeing a client move well again. Sometimes, I receive messages from women who tell me my shoes made their joint pain or plantar fasciitis disappear. That’s the purpose of the shoes, to help people feel better while looking good.

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be: A lawyer. Growing up, my teachers and professors often told me I’d make a good lawyer because I rarely lose an argument. I come with facts prepared.

When I need inspiration, I: Go to the beach or the ocean—anywhere with open water. That’s where I think my best and can work my way through problems.

The biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur is: That it’s a reasonable thing to do. In order to be one, you have to be optimistic and be willing to do lots of work with no payoff for an unknown amount of time. People also think the payoff comes earlier than it does, but it’s a game of delayed gratification.

The advice I always give others now: Nurture your relationships. Every success I’ve had in business came from a relationship with someone. I landed a TV appearance once because a friend of mine helped me make a connection. When you support others, it will come back to you.

One thing I want to do before I retire: I am not a bucket-list person, but I have short-term goals for 2024. This year, I want to go on vacation to Santorini, and also start writing a book on myofascial release, a treatment that has proven to help with injuries, sleep and even mental health.

Alex Cyr
Alex Cyr
Alex Cyr is a Toronto-based writer born and raised on Prince Edward Island. He lives in Liberty Village, and can be found running on the Martin Goodman Trail every day between 4 and 6 pm.