Unika Gujar makes crochet toys for everyone: babies, students and adults. A woman Gujar met at a pop-up took particular pleasure in her handmade teddy bears – before declaring she was “70”.
Gujar, owner of Ulki Toys, sells animals, handbags, keychains and more through her pop-up shops and her Instagram and Facebook pages. She started the business 10 years ago when she wanted to make her little niece a handmade toy with sentimental value. The name “Ulki” comes from a nickname that Gujar’s family calls his niece.
“Because these (toys) are handmade, they hold a certain place in someone’s life,” Gujar said. “These are not just any toys you would get in a store or buy on Amazon. These are specially handcrafted, with each toy being made with great care and love.
Now Gujar said his business is booming.
Growing up in India, Gujar liked to play with dolls, but she noticed that their blonde hair and blue eyes weren’t like her. She crochets dolls of all kinds hoping that children can see themselves in her toys.
Gujar said she saw this vision come true: At a local trade show, a girl pointed to one of Gujar’s dolls, delighted that it looked like her.
“There was a black doll with pearls in her hair, and she was like, ‘Mom, this looks like me! Can I have this one?'” Gujar said. all these years, and I think it’s really amazing.”
Although she’s been crocheting since she was 12, Gujar said her more intricate creations still take her four or five hours. But the work is worth it when she sees the joy on the children’s faces.
Brian Urban said Gujar’s doll helped his 9-year-old daughter Lily last month when she was in a biking accident.
Lily ended up in the hospital and had to endure seven stitches. She found solace in her doll, Rosetta.
“(Lily takes Rosetta) a lot of places,” Urban said. “She tries to be fair to her animal friends, but yeah, Rosetta does travel a lot.”
While Lily has found her toy useful in times of need, 10-year-old Helena, whose parents have requested that her surname be omitted, is another Gujar customer and enjoys her toys in a more playful context.
Helena said she currently owns five Ulki Toys dolls, all animals dressed in colorful outfits. She said it was hard to choose between her two favorites: a red monkey wearing green overalls or a bunny wearing a fuzzy blue sweater.
Sara Shaaban – mum to Reece, five, and Georgia, three – said her children are avid fans of the store. Earlier this year, Shaaban was selling products from her personal care boutique, Witchy Woman World Apothecary, at the West End Market, where Ulki Toys also had a stand. She said her children beg all day for toys from Gujar.
She ended up trading her own possessions for a doll for Georgia and a blue rhino for Reece.
“We can all continue to lift each other up, support each other, keep the money flowing and keep the inspiration and motivation high,” she said.
Gujar’s prices range from $5 for emoji keychains to $50 for full-size dolls, all of which are handmade. His toys are meant to be enjoyed, Gujar added.
“It’s quite affordable, I think,” Gujar said. “I kept it that way because I want these toys to have a home in every child’s home.”
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