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Meet The Emirati Entrepreneur Behind The Timeless ODEEM Bags

Emirati entrepreneur, Fatma Al Otaiba came up with her dream concept 10 years ago: to have her very own line of luxury handbags. Taking a leap and deciding to launch her brand, the mother of five made her vision a reality only a very short time ago, and ODEEM was born. Homegrown in Dubai, ODEEM is a luxury handbag label that maintains a strong focus on slow fashion and being timeless in a fashion world so consumed by fast fashion and passing trends.  

Using stunning exotic leathers to create her debut handbag styles – the Igor, Nikita and Sascha, Fatma presented her collection in Paris last year, which also went live on her website in February 2020. Only at the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey within the world of luxury fashion, it's clear that ODEEM mixes all the ingredients to give its brand a “forever factor". 

With Al Otaiba’s inspirations lying in the “film noir” genre and her handbags making it onto our lust lists, wanted to catch up with the woman herself to find out everything about ODEEM, her inspirations, challenges and the DNA of the ODEEM woman… 

Tell us about ODEEM and what led you to want to launch your own line of luxury handbags... 
ODEEM is a Dubai based luxury accessory label focusing on timeless leather goods, and is produced in South Africa. The bags display the perfect balance between traditional craftsmanship and a modern take on timeless style with a high sense of natural elegance and comfort, almost as if they are tailored to a woman of character, whose style is uncompromisingly in line with her personality. 

The idea came from wanting to wear certain styles of bags that I had in mind but not being able to find them in the market. Thinking of a bag that’s of beautiful quality and of a balanced amount of details and craftsmanship, in the perfect size made me want to start ODEEM.

What are your inspirations behind the overall ODEEM concept? 
ODEEM breathes new life into classic designs with the effortless use of different textures, eclectic details and elegant finishes translating into unique pieces that are cut with precision and perfect proportions. 

Where did your journey begin with launching the brand, when did you decide that you wanted to finally turn your vision into a reality? 
I had been dreaming of starting a handbag brand for the past 10 years, and four years ago, I took on the challenge and started working with factories to finally translate my vision into reality. I started producing some prototypes and kept improving them for the past 3 years until I was satisfied with the shapes, comfort and quality of design. 

Launching a luxury label can be rather challenging, what would you say have been your biggest challenges so far and how have you overcome them? 
I’ve just entered an industry that is new to me, and soon realized that simply creating a beautiful product is not enough, there are so many other aspects that need to be considered and I am currently learning every day. 

As a female entrepreneur, who are the women that have inspired you in your own life? 
I was blessed with the women that I grew up around; my grandmother, mother, sisters, aunts and they have all been an amazing influence and source of inspiration. As I’ve matured, I realized how being around strong-willed women of great character had a tremendous impact in the person I have become. I also met women entrepreneurs in the fashion industry who inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue my dream. 

What can you tell us about your three main designs, Igor, Nikita and Sascha? 
The Igor, Nikita and Sascha each have a unique shape while they all exude elegance. They are beautifully finished pieces in exquisite material. And they are very practical shapes that could be easily styled for day to night. 

What can you tell us about the use of bold and bright colors that make your designs so eye-catching? 
The inspiration behind my SS20 collection were the strong female leads in ‘Film Noir’. Alfred Hitchcock heroines in particular, they were a symbol of flair and timeless style. He was a master of telling a story without words, and his works were full of suspense and elaborate sets. 

ODEEM bags are made with exotic leathers and there is a classic approach to design sensibilities. With many consumers taking a conscious approach to fashion lately, tell us about where ODEEM meets those particular consumer demands and approach to slow fashion?  
When I decided to create ODEEM’s first collection, I had the intention to make 2 collections per year whilst maintaining that there will always be staple colors in every collection and each season. All the skins are of high quality and sourced from ethical farms, and all of the bags are handmade with utmost attention to detail and craftsmanship. They are timeless pieces with a modern appeal and will always be in style. That is what I believe a conscious consumer looks for when buying ODEEM. 

Being a homegrown label in Dubai, you're up against a plethora of international luxury brands, how does ODEEM stand out? 
I feel that my design aesthetic is unique and brings a new perspective to the market. What sets us aside is that we know the ODEEM woman. We create for her whilst staying true to ODEEM’s DNA. 

Lastly, who is the ODEEM woman and what does she represent? 
The ODEEM woman is one of character, sophistication and is elegant and confident. She has an uncompromising sense of style and loves beautiful, well-made refined pieces. 

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