Ulki Toys owner Unika Gujar strives to foster representation, comfort and joy with her crochet creations


Photo courtesy of Unika Gujar

Unika Gujar showcases her handmade crochet toys.

Samantha Powers, Reporter

Unika Gujar makes crochet toys for everyone: babies, college students and adults. One woman Gujar met at a pop-up took particular delight in her handmade teddy bears — before declaring herself to be “70 years young.” 

Gujar, owner of Ulki Toys, sells animals, purses, keychains and more through her pop-up shops and Instagram and Facebook pages. She started the business 10 years ago, when she wanted to make her baby niece a handmade toy with sentimental value. The name “Ulki” comes from a nickname that Gujar’s family calls her niece.

“Because these (toys) are handmade, they hold a certain place in someone’s life,” Gujar said. “These are not just any toys that you would get in a store or buy on Amazon. These are specially handcrafted, each toy made with a lot of care and love.”

Now, Gujar said her business is thriving.

Growing up in India, Gujar enjoyed playing with dolls, but she noticed their blond hair and blue eyes didn’t look like her. She crochets dolls of all kinds, hoping that children will be able to see themselves in her toys.

Gujar said she’s seen that vision come true: at one local business fair, a girl pointed to one of Gujar’s dolls, delighted that it looked like her.

“There was a Black doll with beads in her hair, and she was like, ‘Mama, that looks like me! Can I have that one?’” Gujar said. “That is something I have seen all these years, and I feel that is really amazing.”

Though she has crocheted since she was 12, Gujar said her most complex creations still take her four or five hours. But the labor is worth it when she sees the joy on the kids’ faces.

Brian Urban said Gujar’s doll helped his 9-year-old daughter Lily last month when she got into a bike accident.

Lily ended up in the hospital and had to endure seven stitches. She found comfort in her doll, Rosetta.

“(Lily takes Rosetta) a lot of places,” Urban said. “She tries to be fair to her animal friends, but yes, Rosetta travels a lot.”

While Lily found her toy helpful in her time of need, 10-year-old Helena, whose parent asked for her last name to be omitted, is another of Gujar’s customers, and enjoys her toys in a more playful context.

Helena said she currently has five Ulki Toys dolls, all animals dressed in colorful outfits. She said it’s hard to choose between her two favorites: a red monkey wearing green overalls or a bunny wearing a fuzzy blue sweater.

Sara Shaaban — mom to five-year-old Reece and three-year-old Georgia — said her kids are avid fans of the store. Earlier this year, Shaaban was selling goods from her self-care shop, Witchy Woman World Apothecary, at West End Market, where Ulki Toys also had a stall. She said her kids begged all day for Gujar’s toys. 

She ended up trading her own goods for a doll for Georgia and a blue rhino for Reece. 

“We can all continue to lift each other up, support one another, keep money flowing, and keep inspiration and motivation high,” she said.

Gujar’s prices range from $5 for emoji keychains to $50 for full-sized dolls, all of which are handmade. Her toys are meant to be enjoyed, Gujar added.

“It’s pretty affordable, I feel,” Gujar said. “I have kept it that way because I want these toys to have a house in every child’s home.”

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