With a Pharmacology degree from the University of Alberta, Canada, Dr. Liza Egbogah is a Doctor of Chiropractic, manual osteopath, myofascial release expert and personal trainer. When she’s not treating celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Liev Schreiber, Gerard Butler, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jeremy Renner, Dr. Liza deploys her holistic and innovative approach for treating chronic pain, injuries, stress, fatigue and tension on clients at the [fix], her stylish and modern boutique clinic in Toronto’s Financial District. In this interview with CHUKS NWANNE, the popular TV host, who was at the just-concluded Lagos Fashion Week, spoke on the Nigerian fashion industry and her plans to impact the sector through her brand.
As a Nigerian living abroad, what’s your Nigerian story?
Well, both of my parents were born here in Nigeria. However, I myself, I’ve never lived here, but in the last year alone, I’ve been here four times. Always, the culture, especially fashion and music, has been integral in my decisions and my lifestyle. And now, having attained success in North America, it’s time to come home and give back to my heritage. If you go to Canada, when there’s an event or I’m doing a TV show, I’m always wearing Nigerian fashion and trying to shine a good light on Nigeria. Unfortunately, when you are in Canada or the US, most of the things you hear about Nigeria are not positive. So, by shinning light on the fashion, music and things people see as positive, which they can relate to, it shows a positive light that Nigerians are talented and smart people. And you have this woman here, who is on TV; she’s an expert in posture and she’s Nigerian.
Beyond attending the 2019 Lagos Fashion Week, what’s your mission in Nigeria this time?
I’m here for the Lagos Fashion Week, one of the biggest fashion weeks in the world actually. But I’m here not just to observe, look at the streets and the runway, but also to find artisans here to work with in Nigeria so that I can develop my Ankara shoe line for next year. By doing that, not only will I utilize artisans here and empower them, but also I will help women-focused charities in Nigeria by giving back proceeds from the collection.
Having seen the Lagos Fashion Week, what’s your impression of the Nigerian fashion industry?
I’m absolutely wowed by Lagos Fashion Week; the talent here is unparalleled when it comes to fashion. I mean, many of the top designers from around the world, this is where they get their inspiration.
Though you are impressed with the creativity of Nigerian designers, is there something you feel is missing in the industry?
What is missing here is the proper marketing. People know about the fashion here, but you go to Canada or the United States, you don’t hear that much about the fashion here. When people see designers coming up with these wax print collections, they think that they created them; they don’t know it comes from Africa. So, I think the biggest issue is that there’s no marketing to show that this is Africa; that this is our own fashion.
One of the things that I’m doing with this trip is to do a Fashion Diary. So, for a couple of publications in Canada, I’m doing a fashion diary where I take people behind the scene and show them the street styles here; show them the runways collections and even the markets. The idea is to showcase the Nigerian fashion industry and the creative individuals behind it.
As a trained Doctor, how and when did you encounter fashion?
I have to give my mother credit for my fashion inspiration. From the time I was a child, she would make our dresses and sew matching bows on the shoes. My brother, my sister, and myself, we were always fashionable. Even my mum, she has her own signature style; whether she’s at home or going out. I have to say that’s where my real passion for fashion came from; all credit to my mum.
So, at what point did you decide to make a career out of it?
Well, I’ve been a doctor since 2007 and it was only in about 2014, when one of my patients, who is in the fashion industry, came to me and said, ‘You know what, you are going to be the one to design the high heels for women that’s not only fashionable and looks good, but also comfortable.’ And that’s actually what put the thoughts on my head that, ‘if there’s anyone, who should do it, it should be me because I’m a body and posture expert; I understand what needs to go into shoes to make the posture right.’ I understand fashion, love fashion, so, why not incorporate the two? Then, I started the process; I had to learn how to sketch so that I can actually design my shoe collection. So, in March 2017 it was launched- my two loves brought together.
Beyond fashion, Liza Shoe seems to pay more attention to the health implication of wearing high heels?
You know, after I had practiced for over 10 years, having women come to my office disfigured, disabled because they chose to wear the wrong shoes, I said, how can we as women be wearing shoes and purposely suffering in pains? Sometimes, we can’t walk well just because of fashion and need to have surgeries. I love to wear high heels, but I stand almost all day for work and I couldn’t stand in any of those high heels. So, I resolved that we as women, in order to compete on a level playing ground, not only do we have to have the high in the lift, but we also have to be comfortable and move around as freely as men could move around.
What’s special about your brand of high heels?
The original Dr. Liza Pump is a balanced, beautiful and versatile 3.75-inch heel designed by a doctor for true all-day, everyday wear. The new Dr. Liza Sneaker Pump boasts all of the features of the original pump with a 2-inch heel and 0.5-inch platform- for a luxurious heel that truly feels and functions like a sneaker.
The shoes were meticulously crafted in Brazil with a comprehensive orthotic insole, a shock-absorbing platform, a rocker sole to alleviate metatarsal pressure, a non-skid rubber outsole and a deep heel cup to remedy pronation. The EVA platform boasts shock-absorbing EVA foam to ensure every step is soft and comfortable, the non-skid rubber outsole provides traction and shock absorption to keep you grounded and balanced from morning to night, while the deep heel cup gives you greater stability by controlling over- pronation (when your feet roll in too much). It also helps to compress the fat at the bottom of the heel to provide your own additional cushioning.
On the other hand, the rocker sole redistributes weight at the metatarsal head (ball of your foot) to eliminate pressure when standing or walking, while the orthotic insole features advanced foam cushioning and contoured arch support, engineered to provide biomechanical stance correction with every step. This is the first line of shoe to be clinically tested. So, I accounted for all the issues that women have with their shoes in my shoe.
Why have you decided to introduce you brand in Nigeria now?
I thought the perfect timing to introduce this brand would be when I will be releasing the Ankara collection next year. When I come back, I will be working with artisans here. I will do a pop-up shop in Lagos so that people can come in and experience it and even get my expertise. It will be an opportunity for them to ask about their foot problems and see what might be the best shoe for them.
Could you tell us more about this Ankara collection?
It’s going to be the Ankara Collection; that’s the name. I would take different patterns from fabrics that I’ve chosen; we will take them and print on the leather so that we can have it in the shoes and handbags. I will also be working with a designer here to design my first sandal; right now I have palms, I have ballet flat, I have buddies, but no sandals yet. So, I’ve found an artisan here that would help me create a sandal that will have African flair.
Who’s your target market for your shoe brand?
It’s mainly targeted for women who are working; in many work environments, you are required to wear more of dressy shoe. I thought when I released it at first it would be mostly women, who are going to work in offices. But now, I find that everyone who wants comfort, is buying it; you can wear it to anywhere. Imagine going for a wedding and being able to dance all day and your feet don’t hurt. How many brides have to kick off their shoes, how many guests have to kick off their shoes or just sit down because their shoes hurt. But when you are wearing the Dr. Liza shoes, you don’t need to throw them off; you can wear them, dance and enjoy yourself.
You talked about giving back, how exactly do you intend to implement that?
First of all, one of the ways to give back is by actually employing Nigerians and bringing the fund and resources to Nigeria to create products. So, the artisans will be making money from what we do. Also, part of the proceeds from the ankara collection will go to a charity that supports women here. Also, I will be offering a foot care clinic for people to get expert treatment at no cost.