Afros in the house, let’s play


Mala Bryan might love dolls more than people. And for black girls around the world, that’s a good thing. Bryan has taken it upon herself to create dolls that celebrate the variety of skin tones, facial features and hair textures of black women. Self-love and self-confidence are taught to us as children, and Bryan is making sure that girls of every complexion can see themselves – and their beauty – in her dolls.

Bryan is a Saint Lucia-born, South African-based model who has ventured into the doll-making business. Her passion started at a young age when her mother made her crotchet dolls. As an adult with a prosperous modelling career, Bryan became frustrated with how difficult it was to find dolls that represented her. So she decided to create her own brand – the Malaville girls. The Barbie-sized dolls have different personalities and features, embodying different aspects of Bryan’s life and family. Their success has shown that many felt her early frustration. The Malaville girls have attracted international media coverage and attention, selling beyond the borders of Africa.

Identity is everything. And if dolls around the world only look like one type of person, everyone suffers. Bryan recognises this. The love that she feels for her dolls is a love that all girls can share. Her hope is that the dolls will let young girls feel beautiful and magical – the same way she does when she plays with them.