By Monica Victor
Dreams Do ComeTrue, But Only If We Actively Pursue Them
When Mala Bryan was a little girl, she played with many dolls none of which looked like her — white ones. Today, Mala has gone from playing with Cabbage Patch and Barbie dolls to having her very own line of dolls that look like her — black ones. Mala’s doll play has evolved and she designs everything — from choosing their eye color and hair texture, to their eclectic outfits and afrocentric hairdos to designing the packaging for her dollie line.
This creative genius, Mala Bryan, a St.Lucian model turned entrepreneur and CEO, credits a dream — a literal dream — for her Malaville collection.
Whether pleasant or poignant we all have dreams and dream from time to time. And while some of us brush them off as a figment of our imagination, others take what they see in their dream very seriously.
“Thank goodness for dreams,” Mala says. “I take what I see in mine very seriously. I knew I wanted to have my own line of dolls about 15 years ago. I had a dream about them but I didn’t understand it until later on. I was too focused on other things to think about that dream. But it kept on coming back and I eventually figured it out.”
Thank goodness indeed for dreams, one gave birth to the Malaville line of dolls–Maisha, Mala, Malina and Mhina.
Congrats on this new and much needed venture. When did you decide to give it a go?
“In April 2015 I traveled to China in search of a manufacturer and designed the dolls in three months.”
To what extent were you involved in the creative process?
“Every aspect of it. I designed the Malanites, the fabulous citizens of Malaville, from scratch — I chose the eye shape, skin color, features. I designed them all. I created them with little to no makeup because I wanted their natural beauty to stand out. I also design their clothes and the packaging for the dolls.”
These dolls wear outfits that I as an adult would love to wear myself. Where does the inspiration for the outfits come from?
“The inspiration for their outfits comes from the fabric or the dolls themselves and our travel destination.”
As a child many of us made dolls with sticks, banana leaves and yarn (haha ok maybe just me) but you had the real deal.
“I still have my very first doll. My mom lived in St.Martin and would send me lots of toys, all sorts of toys. I had lots of dolls growing up and most of them were white — cabbage patch kids, Barbies. I made my own dollhouse from cardboard and chewing gum, and stuck pages from catalogs as decoration.”
When did you realize that hey, I should have my own doll line or I will follow through with that recurring dream?
“As a collector, I couldn’t find beautiful black dolls so I made the decision to finally give it a go. Often the black dolls you find in stores are ugly and some even look angry. This really makes me upset. I wonder what goes through the creators mind when they make them.”
So you created, four beautiful black dolls. How does it feel to have your own collection?
“Getting my own dolls felt very natural. It was not easy but because I started collecting dolls first, I sort of eased into it. My first four dolls were created with different tones of brown because I couldn’t really find them on the market.”
Who does Malaville cater to?
“My creations are for everyone, young and old, black and white, brown and yellow.”
What’s the inspiration behind the name Malaville?
“Malaville is what I call my personal space. It is a very peaceful place for me. My ‘zoned out’ or ‘daydream’ world. A space I go into when I meditate or when I’m doing something creative. It just made sense to name my brand after my imagination.”
Accomplishments often come with challenges and I imagine the road to getting there wasn’t easy. What was your ultimate challenge?
“To just start! There were a few people who told me it was not a good idea as I would be competing against big companies.. But once I got started it was all about trying to communicate with my manufacturers in different time zones and teaching them about black skin tones and ethnic/Afro hair. Apart from that, I just talked myself into standing firm, believing that I’ve managed to have a dream manifest.”
Once you started, what was the most challenging part of the designing process?
“Designing my packaging took a while and that was a bit more challenging for me.”
What do you say to folks who are afraid of following their dreams?
“My doll collection is a dream come true, so to all those out there with big dreams, just keep working hard at them. With strong faith, they will come true. Dream big, and don’t give up. Surround yourself with people who support your dream or people who understand that dream. Dreams that are not worked on will just be dreams. Do not force it and do not allow fear to chase it. Push it forward with love and passion and then enjoy the success.The best you can do is try. And I believe that if you have tried, then that in itself is a success. Do what makes you happy and live your best life.”
So how can we get our hands on the Malanite beauties?
The dolls are based in South Africa for now and will soon be in the United States and Europe. But they can be purchased online at www.malavilletoys.com with worldwide and expedited shipping.
Thank you Mala Bryan for sharing your dream and vision with the world.
Thank you Manmay LaKay Magazine, it’s definitely my pleasure.
About the Author:
Monica Victor is the executive producer of Manmay LaKay Magazine. She’s a copywriter, social media and reputations manager at a financial services company. Her writings there aim to help folks make good use of their dollars and sense. Her writings at Manmay LaKay Magazine seek to celebrate her fellow St.Lucians, empower and inspire folks to live their dream, raise awareness on the diseases that afflict us, connect all St.Lucians globally and to keep her St.Lucian heritage alive.