Model turned restaurant owner Maya Bryan is making representative dolls for children.

Mala Bryan first found success as an international model but has since expanded her career into hospitality and representative dolls.

Born in St Lucia in the West Indies, Mala has fond memories of assisting her grandmother at her street stall as a young girl. This time around food and cooks is what influenced her passion for food and led her to opening her first restaurant of Afro-Caribbean cuisine.

Together with well-known chef and proprietor Georgio Nava, Mala owns Carne on Kloof. A carnivore’s paradise serving a unique offering of the finest cuts of beef, lamb and game grilled to perfection. 

Following a visit to the restaurant to meet the Italian master chef and see him in action, we head back to Mala’s home in Cape Town to find out more about her doll business which she started after realising how hard it was to find children’s toys that looked like her. 

“The whole goal and purpose of Malaville Dolls is to have dolls of colour that can represent different skin tones and hair types. It’s very important for young girls, especially young black girls that do not have that in the market, and have hardly ever seen black dolls that look like them on shelves. I wanted to change that because it’s very important,” says the entrepreneur and model.  

Mala has since started collaborating with creative designer Oswald Banieaona and manufacturers to now also introduce colour books with custom made crayons that consist of a selection of colours that match the dolls skin tones. 

“I hope this book contributes to the sense of self. Because I think that Identity growing up is very important in building a good self esteem. That’s what I hope children get out of it,” shares Oswald. 

A new addition to the family, baby Luca, has further grown Maya’s appreciation for toys and how she sees the world.  

“Since having Luca it’s been very interesting. For one, the way I approach business now is very different. I’ve also created toys for children that are older, so now having him and observing him play makes me understand what parents want from toys a lot more,” says the new mom.

We are really excited to see how this will influence the Malaville collection because as Mala Bryan’s world grows, so does the opportunity for future generations to feel represented by the toys that shape their childhoods.