Getting To Know Mally's Marian Nel

Blog developed for Mally Leather Bags, by collaborating partner Kaleidoscope SA.

Marian Nel is the founder and creative conceptualiser of Mally Leather Bags. She’s also a very proud mom to three absolutely adorable children. She’s motivated and inspired by designing luxurious, timeless and functional leather bags, with a speciality in baby bags.

As a mother herself, she understands how tricky it can be for moms to find the essential, high-quality bag that has enough space and baby-friendly pockets for everything needed throughout the day.

To develop this blog, we had a coffee with Mally, and put her on the spot about everything we couldn’t wait to ask her:

1. First things first. You’re Marian, but your nickname is ‘Mally’. Can you tell us the story behind that? We’ve ALWAYS wondered.

Haha. Well, let me curb your curiosity. When I was younger we used to watch the children’s story ‘Mina Moo’ and my two older brothers started teasing me, and called me ‘Mally Moo’. They even had a song they used to sing to me. So, as we grew up, the ‘Moo’ fell away but everyone still calls me ‘Mally’ to this day.

2. When you were a little girl, what was your biggest dream?

When I was a little girl, my friend, who lived next door, and I used to sell our old clothes on the corner of our street. It was the beginning of the end for me, and I decided that I wanted to start my own fashion business, and sell style for the rest of my life. Even in those days, I knew that my brand would be called ‘Mally’.

3.What are your 3 favourite things in this world? Go.

A good book, coffee and, of course, a leather handbag. Hey, what can I say, I’m biased.

4.We’ve all got one – but who would you say is your idol, and what do you love about them?  

I know that this sounds cliché but I don’t have one idol, I have many. I admire female entrepreneurs, and I always enjoy reading their stories. There’s something wonderful about women who are unafraid to throw themselves into what they love and are determined to make a success of it.

5. What sparked your idea to develop your own range of leather bags?

The Mally Leather Bags story started in 2009, after I moved to a farm in the Klein Karoo. I’ve always wanted to start a business, especially one that I could run from home, and the idea came to me quite naturally. My husband bought me a bag online as a gift and when it came, I wasn’t entirely happy with it. Simply, it didn’t suit my needs as a mom. I knew that the only way to find the best bag for me was to make it myself, and so that’s what I did. I chose the hides for tanning, conceptualised the design, and soon enough had my own, unique bag. My friends all wanted one too, and the journey spiralled from there.

6. Can you tell us about your fondest moment or memory with a Mally customer? 

I’d have to say that the first thing that comes to mind is when a customer once told me that she has named each of her Mally Bags. I thought that was just so special. It’s incredible to know that my clients feel an emotional attachment to their bags. It’s almost like they become friends with their Mally Bags, but, after all, they do take them everywhere.

7. If we gave you a magic crystal ball, where would you like to envision the Mally Bags brand in 5 years?

Although we’ve been operating, designing and spotted on shoulders for the past 9 years, it feels like every new release opens a whole new chapter. Recently, we showcased our new Baby Bambino Backpack which has flown out of stock, and has a waiting list. And, our new Mally Men's Range is now available - which we were so excited to launch because our customers have been asking non-stop about when there will be leather goods for men too! Slowly, but surely, we’ve gained recognition across South Africa, and even into Dubai. If my crystal ball is right, we’ll continue to grow and increase our customer base on an international scale.


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