This fashion model made her lifelong dream come true by launching a collection of black dolls, each with their own distinctive coloring and personalities.
Mala Bryan, born in St. Lucia, got the idea of making her own dolls when she was 18. She says that she was inspired by a dream in which she was playing with Barbies; since then she started decorating plastic dolls with artificial flowers and selling them to the guests at a hotel where she worked.
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The 33-year-old model says she was inspired into making her Malaville dolls collection because as a collector, she found it extremely difficult to find black dolls with ethnic hair. She realized that she might not be the only one who was having similar issues with getting dolls which represented their ethnical diversity.
"But I made note," she said, "that children nowadays are exposed a bit more to race, so the idea of making my own was born."
The first four dolls in her collection, (named Maisha, Mala, Malina and Mhina) each has a different brown tone and hair texture. They even have their own unique “lives” in the “dolly world” she created for her Instagram page and Bryan is always tagging them with terms like #afro and #blackdolls.
Bryan designs the dolls' features and chooses their hair and eye color from scratch. She also emphasizes that her dolls feature little to no makeup, as she wanted their natural beauty to shine.
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The St. Lucian models dolls are not just for the black community; children belonging to all races are welcome to buy the dolls to add diversity to their toy collection. Some of her toys are specifically customized to suit the tastes of adults who collect dolls as a hobby.