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Me, Myself & You

By Aida Toro

The woman behind Fontem Handbags, Maayan Hotam has a gift, and a message, she wants you to give yourself.

“Me, myself, and you," is Maayan Hotam’s thought while she is designing personalized handbags for her customers. Hotam is the founder of FONTEM.  She does everything herself when it comes to designing her handbags, all the way from the patchwork to the stitching. FONTEM came to fruition from Hotam’s aspiration to cultivate exquisite, tailor-made bags, each one unique and precious to its owner. Hotam came up with the name Fontem for her company by putting together the word "Fonte" in Latin which defines spring water and the letter  "M", the meaning of her name "Maayan" in Hebrew, which symbolizes the fountain of creativity that inspires her work. 

“In this world of disposable goods, my desire was to create meaningful and timeless products, that are meant to last,” said Hotam. “We are used to a very different way of consuming these days, and I am proud to slow down the clock with each creation, grant it my undivided attention and create it from start to finish using premium and sustainable materials only.”

Hotam was born in Israel, however, raised in Kenya. She then traveled to Italy to pursue her education. 

“I couldn't be more grateful for these diverse life experiences,” she said. “They granted me with a very wide perspective and an enormous appreciation for life, and shaped me to be who I am today.”

Prior to becoming a designer, Hotam was a professional dancer in a world that shaped her relentless drive for perfection, along with a deep appreciation for the elegant beauty of perfect lines and dynamic forms. 

“Dance was and always will be one of my greatest passions, and I remain connected to this world and inspired by it every day,” said Hotam.

Although dancing is one of her greatest passion, Hotam knew she wanted to establish a brand of her own, and was always designing and experimenting with raw materials. Entering the world of fashion and design through her studies in Italy, facilitated a natural transition from the dance world.  It further nurtured her profound respect for the meticulous tradition of handmade craftsmanship, and creative drive to break boundaries with a unique and authentic design.

“I design immediately and directly in three dimensions,” said Hotam. “I don't like to sketch since I feel it ruins something in the translation between the idea in my head and the outcome.

Hotam translates her vision directly to the piece, and allows the material to guide her hands along with the idea she has in mind. With that being said, she is very passionate about learning the craftsmanship in Italy. 

“I spent two years studying form the greatest masters, immersing myself in the many details that comprise this world,” expressed Hotam. “Today, this allows me to design and create freely from idea to finished product.”

Hotam’s studio is located in the sunny hills of Southern California, since it has always been a dream of hers to come to the 'wild west'. At the studio, Hotam is in charge of everything as she is a one-woman team. 

“There is an enormous satisfaction in seeing an order through from start to finish,” said Hotam. “It begins when the customer sends over their personal message and by doing so invites me to be a part of their blessing, a part of their gift.”

She mentioned she’s had the privilege to be part of some wonderful stories, which she adores. It forces people to pause from their busy lives, and think of the recipient. and what they would like to write them, as well as to become very engaged in the process.

“The following step is the actual crafting of the clutch. and the last one is receiving the wonderful feedback and stories customers shared with me from their gift-giving moment,” said Hotam. “The best part is that a woman is being celebrated and appreciated dearly, walking around with a unique purse, that was made especially for her, with her loved one's blessing inside or an inspirational message she gifted herself.”

Hotam mentioned that she would love to expand her business and really looks forward to bringing happiness to more people through FONTEM. 

“I will always make sure Fontem stays true to its values.  I would love more than anything to expand an in-house studio from which the atelier and business will be operated,” said Hotam. “I believe in the uniqueness and truthfulness of the brand, and I believe now more than ever, people are searching for exactly that.”

Fontém Handbags can be purchased at


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