Mala Bryan, model turned doll manufacturer
Like many successful models, St. Lucian model, Mala Bryan came to the career by chance. As the story goes, Bryan was out shopping at a market in Marigot, St. Martins, where she lived with her mum at the time, when she was spotted by a model scout. She was 17. Bryan went on to model in France, United States, South Africa and other countries around the world.
Before modelling though, Bryan, like her mother, had been a doll maker. She would make dolls and sell to guests at the hotel where she worked as a teenager. Now, with her modelling career of over 15 years still thriving, Bryan has decided to return to her earlier enterprise on a bigger scale.
An avid doll collector, Bryan said she was inspired to return to doll manufacturing because she couldn’t find affordable brown dolls with kinky hair to add to her Barbie collection.
The making of Malaville dolls
Her brand of dolls, Malaville, comes in kinky and afro hairstyles, brown skin tones and Afro-Caribbean inspired outfits. The dolls go by different names like Mala B, Maisha, Malina and Mhina, and have specific careers assigned to them in their virtual lives online.
Bryan told Nylon that her aim is to have as many relatable dolls as possible.
“Black/brown children need dolls that they can relate to, and children of other races can have dolls of color with kinky/curly hair that they can now use to represent their black/brown friends in their dolly world,” she added.
In addition to doll making, Bryan is working with African and Caribbean designers to create a Malaville clothing line. Talk about building an empire.