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Luxury in Bloom

By Jennifer Moulaison | Photo by Manny Espinoza

Malva is a genus of about 30 species of flowers native to the temperate climate on the Monterey Peninsula and in South America, from where Gabriel Barba hails. Today, Barba and his wife, Karen, spend their days working leather into a striking and functional collection of handbags bearing the name representing their inspiration: Du, French for “of” or “coming from,” and Malva, referring to the floral variety.

Barba grew up immersed in the rural lifestyle of his family’s farming business in Argentina and still recalls the memorable scent of leather from the horse saddles. He traveled to Monterey to visit his sister, who was teaching there. “I came here intending only to stay for a year or so. It’s been 24 years, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” he says. He crossed paths with Karen, who traveled to the area from Colombia to purchase products for her boutiques. After bonding with each other and the Monterey region, they decided to find something they could do together. Inspiration struck during their travels around northern Colombia, where they discovered a community of indigenous women who carried beautiful handmade wool cross-body bags.

Originally inspired by the bags, Barba and his wife designed a line of bags and Barba quickly fell in love with leathermaking. The bags have evolved to include the finest and exotic leathers as well as a unique hexagonal shape. Obtaining the necessary machinery and sourcing leather of exquisite quality, the couple got to work with the help of a small team. “We were having so much fun, it would be three o’clock in the afternoon before we’d realize we worked completely through lunch,” he says.

Dumalva is a meticulously crafted line of handbags. Its curated collection demonstrates a harmony of design, and is unique, classy, and timeless. View its products online or in its Monterey showroom.

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