Over the years, Erika Carrero quickly realized that there was a gap in the luxury shoe market for style and comfort, which is why she went on to found Elizée in 2019, and in July 2021, she developed a collection of groundbreaking high heels, crafted in one of Italy's top luxury factories. The San Francisco-based luxury footwear company is changing the high heel game forever — and it's because of the businesswoman's amazing idea.
Instead of being uncomfortable all night long, Carrero, who is an accomplished Silicon Valley Executive in operational finance, designed a unique insole that alleviates the pain of wearing high-heeled shoes while still looking chic and sexy.
"In order to deliver a truly revolutionary balance of seductive design with ultimate comfort, we really pushed the envelope using innovative comfort tech, and for our insole, we brought in cutting edge materials that were developed for the aerospace industry because they provide the most effective shock-absorption and responsive, lasting memory cushion," Carrero exclusively tells Morning Honey. "We combined this Silicon Valley-style innovation with the luxury craftsmanship of our Italian artisans to develop an insole that delivers all-day comfort but maintains the sleek look of a luxury shoe. The result is a comfort-driven collection with women’s well-being at the forefront, that truly elevates beautiful design."
"Elizée was born out of a major market gap — there simply were no shoes out there that could make a woman look as gorgeous as she wanted to feel and keep her truly comfortable on her feet all day during a busy day of board meetings, running across a crowded airport, or walking several city blocks to dinner and then going out dancing," she notes. "We have a policy that the shoes have to make you feel great both inside and out, and we never compromise on comfort. It’s challenging to balance aesthetics and comfort — in other brands, one is always sacrificed a bit to achieve the other. But for Elizée, we refused to compromise on either comfort or style."
As a result, Elizée was born, and the fashion guru is still pinching herself at how far she's come.
"It is just the most rewarding feeling. It has always been amazing to me how quickly a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes can change how I feel, how I hold myself, and even how I act," she shares. "I am sure every woman knows exactly what I mean: when we feel that elusive combination of comfortable, confident and sexy, we’re instantly empowered to take on any challenge. Elizée has that feeling at the center of our design philosophy."
She adds, "One great example of this is when I met a woman that hadn’t worn heels in more than 10 years, mostly because she thought her ankles were too wide and shoes were unstable on her. She came to our showroom and tried on a style that is designed with ankle straps – precisely because we wanted to make sure it would fit every woman’s beautiful legs. She tried on the shoes, and she started dancing and jumping in the heels. She hugged me and thanked me for helping her feel sexy and beautiful again. One of my favorite stories to this day."
Carrero feels like the right person to take on this job, as she has "a deeply personal understanding of what want to feel when they put on a shoe," she says. "Fashion has been made for women but run mostly by men, so I am honored to be in a position where I can shake up the industry both from an innovation perspective and from gender disparity/inclusion. We need more female leaders and entrepreneurs in all industries and fuel success in women. In pursuing my passion, took a few risks when I started Elizée, transitioned from a tech career, bootstrapped the company without external funding or a cofounder – and it has been incredibly rewarding. Given my prior experiences running tech start-ups, it was always a dream to have my own company, it requires passion and determination and sacrifices, but it is all worth it."
Despite the ups and downs — Carrero says it's difficult to wear multiple hats and work with different people around the globe when everyone's in a different time zone — she thoroughly enjoys the creative process.
"I love starting a new concept with my team in Italy, going to the factory, visiting the heel and leather suppliers and choosing the components for the next collection. The brainstorming stage of putting together ideas and coming up with sketches that would make their way into the next step of prototyping the shoes, all typically take place in Milan so my design trips also include a day-visit to this amazing city. My favorite activity in the city remains people-watching — the Milanese are so bold, creative and striking with fashion, and their glam outfits are an endless source of inspiration," she notes.
Going forward, Carrero hopes the brand continues to get bigger — and even better.
"I would love to have achieved significant brand recognition by differentiating ourselves in a very competitive market with our unique product offering and being relevant to customers’ demands," she states. "Additionally, I'd love to have solid revenue growth by continuing with our direct to consumer model balanced with wholesale and retail with accessible luxury prices and expand geographical international distribution."
"I foresee us taking on a partner/investors that can support our expansion into new markets," she adds.
Ultimately, Carrero wants to stay true to the brand's key message: to design stylish, comfortable, handmade footwear for women – footwear that inspires confidence through comfort and beauty.
"Elizée and its mission are deeply personal to me because I wanted to meet the needs of the modern woman. Our lives as women have evolved and are now very dynamic — with work, travel, kids, family, and friends so we need shoes that look great but are comfortable too. To me, the brand is not only about selling shoes, Elizée is a platform to empower women to feel sexy, confident, and comfortable all at once because confidence comes naturally when you feel your best. We use our social media to bring empowering messages to women and push the causes we believe in (breast cancer awareness month, giving back to the community)," she says.
"It is a privilege to be a female founder and CEO in fashion," she concludes. "In a world where women still have to fight hard to access opportunities, we need to work on cultivating our own successes. We need to champion ourselves, whether that means having a conversation with your boss about that next promotion or asking for more challenging opportunities at work or speaking up at a meeting in room full of people. It can be intimidating — and it takes courage — but in my experience that power comes from within in believing in yourself."