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Malaville: Ethnic Dolls Bringing Diversity to Children's Toys

Malaville Dolls is an Afro-Caribbean inspired doll line created by South Africa based model Mala Bryan. Aiming to empower young girls who might otherwise struggle to find dolls that reflect their physical features and backgrounds, the range includes dolls with various complexions, multiple brown-skin tones and different textures of curly hair. Each has a unique backstory, which makes the dolls even more relatable. We caught up with Mala to find out more:

Tell us the story behind Malaville?

The story behind Malaville is actually quite a simple one. I’ve always loved dolls and they hold a special place in my heart. When I started collecting I noticed a few things were lacking when it came to dolls of colour, I didn’t feel like I could relate to them in numerous ways. I was not a fan of the serious side eye looks, the constant straight hair and the skin tones all seemed to be too similar. Although I would manipulate the hair and tried repainting the eyes I thought it was time to do something about it and that is when the idea for having my own line produced was born.

Why is it so important that there is diversity in children’s toys?

It is extremely important for there to be diversity in children’s toys because it helps build the self esteem of children and to give them a sense of belonging. It’s a good feeling to feel that you matter and it gives them a boost in their confidence as well.

Each doll you have created is so beautiful, what is your inspiration behind them?

I wanted each doll to stand out with her natural beauty - that is why they do not have any makeup on. I want little girls to see themselves in the dolls, fresh faced and beautiful curly and kinky textured hair. I also write each story based on what I feel from the individual doll. By giving them things such as favourite colors and activities to do, children tend to fall in love with a story that they can relate to. I also make sure that the dolls do good things in their stories such as helping out in the community and charity work, with hopes to encourage the children to do the same. Alexa for example, my doll with albinism, her story helps people understand and learn a bit about albinism and I hope to bring a bit of awareness as well.

You can see a lot of work has been put into the dolls. Not just physical attributes like freckles and hair texture but they all have unique personalities, fashion sense, careers and hobbies. How long did it take you to design the dolls and what was your inspiration?

I think because I’ve been playing with my other dolls for years, it was very easy for me to know what I wanted right away. I have lived in many countries around the world and my job as a fashion model gave me so much experience that it almost felt like second nature to me. I guess I can say I have been storing lots of information over the years.

What impact do you hope Malaville will have?

I hope that Malaville can help build the self esteem of young black and brown children. I would love to be able to teach children of all races to love and accept one another and I think that can happen through play. To bring awareness to different causes and to use our platform for the betterment of humanity.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far is being able to go through with launching these beautiful line of dolls, but the cherry in the top would be designing and mass producing the world’s first doll with albinism.

What does the future hold for Malaville?

The future of Malaville looks amazing, more dolls and more skin tones. African and Afro-Caribbean goddesses, I’ve already designed them I’m just waiting for the right time to launch them. Story books, and fun accessories as well.

For more information and to order your Malaville Doll, visit: