Most of us will remember playing with Barbie dolls when we were younger, but now the face of dolls is changing. Mala Bryan, Caribbean-born international model who has walked for the likes of Fendi and Just Cavalli, has launched a range of dolls in South Africa that celebrate African beauty and natural hair textures. More and more mothers are steering towards buying dolls and toys that their daughters can relate to, creating a sense of diversity when it comes to beauty. Mala has launched four dolls as part of her Malaville doll collection; Mala, Malina, Maisha and Mhina.

We chat to Mala about her dolls and also sneak in some time to talk about her beauty secrets.

What was the process in starting a collection of Malaville dolls and did you take most of the look of the dolls from your own physical features?

The process for starting the Malaville collection was a bit more complicated than I thought it would be. First I wanted to have two different set of facial features, but due to manufacturing restraints I decided on a pre-existing mould. It just happened that the facial features of the mould were very similar to the doll that I had designed. As far as the body goes, it’s an 11.5 inch body, which is a standard in dolls of that size.

In terms of dolls, brands such as Barbie have been a hit with children for years. Did you ever worry about the collection not being able to compete in the eyes of the Barbie consumer?

I am a Barbie collector, so I would say I have a pretty good idea of what to look for in dolls. I follow lots of collectors as well and have conducted a lot of my research by reading the comment sections on their social media pages. It gave me a good idea as to what parents and their children were looking for as well as what other adult collectors like myself liked and disliked. I try not to see Barbie as competition, my aim is to add something that seems to have been missing in the doll market.

Why South Africa when thinking about the next country to launch your collection?

SA is a place I’ve loved since the first time I visited the country, nine years ago. It is a place where I’ve always felt very creative so for me it was an easy decision. It is also one of the countries where my concept fits in perfectly, with the rich diversity and many shades of brown.

What would you tell your five-year-old self about beauty now?

I would tell my five-year-old-self to love herself, especially her hair. Using hair relaxing products will not make maintaining her hair any easier. I would also tell her to focus on being beautiful on the inside, because if she is happy, her outer beauty will shine, too.

Name five beauty products you always carry.

1: Vichy Aqualia Thermal SPF 25 Facial Moisturiser

2: Nivea Body Moisturiser

3: Neutrogena make-up remover wipes

4: MAC Mineralised Powder in Dark

5: Florida Water Cologne

What’s your go-to style on lazy days?

Summer: a cute t-shirt with shorts and sandals

Winter: black leggings, sweater and cool boots

Do you have any tips for getting ready in a short amount of time?

Practice a three-minute make-up routine and some cool hair tricks.

How do you handle a bad hair day?  

Bad hair days are easily handled by tying a scarf beautifully around my head.

The dolls are available at, priced at $20 (about R280).