Imagine taking three large aspects of your life and combining them all into a singular product; that’s exactly what Alicja Colon did when she sought to create her craft kits. After years of counseling, working with students, and a full-time job as a paper engineer, Colon founded and created Unstationary.
Unstationary is art therapy-inspired paper-craft kits, Colon said. “... as you are crafting this paper craft, we’re asking you questions or asking you to interact with your craft in a certain way that brings about, hopefully, insight, that can plant seeds,” Colon said.
Colon made a craft to be used by both children and adults, focusing on topics such as learning to unpack baggage, affirmation, self-appreciation and more by merging the lessons she has learned and visual analogies used with students. She launched her kits in November 2019.
“The object you’re creating is definitely linked to the topic as a visual analogy,” Colon said.
For example, a palm tree - one of the most flexible trees in the world - is constructed when learning about flexibility in circumstances. A robot is built when being taught that you’re uniquely wired - you are made to be very specific to you.
“We have a rocket that talks about curiosity and how growth-mindset versus fixed-mindset can unlock our growth and our potential - that’s a really good visual analogy of a rocket. It’s not going to go anywhere if it’s not focused on growth,” Colon said.
Photo courtesy of Alicja Colon
Alicja Colon displays her Unstationary kit, “The Retro Rocket,” which proposes the concept that curiosity wins.
The length of time it takes to complete a kit depends on which one is being worked on. They range from 30 minutes to three hours — shorter kits intended for kids and longer kits intended for teenagers or adults. As you build the structure, questions will appear in blue, inviting you to dive deeper into the topic and your thoughts.
“The ones for adults are definitely deeper,” Colon said. “The vintage camper focuses a lot on emotional baggage. It forces them to think about themselves a little bit deeper. Where a kid a. wouldn’t have the stamina to do a 3-hour paper craft kit but b. wouldn’t have the wherewithal to even understand the questions.”
Four other women are behind the magic of making Colon’s dreams come to life.
Cee, Alicja’s mother, is called the “Grandma gauntlet.” When a new kit is created, all instructions go through Cee. If she can put it together, then the product is a ‘go.’ She also cuts the paper - the most essential part of building the structure.
Kat, the youngest member of the crew, helps bring new ideas to the table and also does a lot of the illustrations.
Loretta has worked with children professionally with students for nearly 20 years. She helps design the lessons for kids to make sure everything will be comprehensible.
Last, but not least, is Lauren; a mental and cognitive occupational therapist for soldiers. Her 13 years of experience helps her to review the questions asked while putting the structure together and refine the actions that people take while they put it together. She’s even started to incorporate the kits into her program with soldiers at Fort Stewart.
“Having a therapist who has been in the field for 13 years, you know, come across your kits and then realize ‘oh my goodness, this is amazing - how can I employ this into my department?,’ that also gives me really positive feedback,’” Colon said.
This is one of the many reasons she continues to push forward.
“With Unstationary, the money has never been there,” Colon said. “We’re going on two years - the money has never been there. But, I trudge forward because I feel like the purpose, I feel like its mission is incredibly important.”
The structures and name of the business go hand-in-hand; both having a deeper, underlying meaning.
“The mission is to be able to help people get unstuck, which is the whole thing about Unstationary because it’s kind of a double entendre,” Colon said. “Stationary if spelled with an e would be about paper, but we obviously use the ‘stationary’ that’s meant like standing still. We still wanted to give a nod to that double entendre so we added the ‘un’ on top. So, the whole idea is to get people unstuck. You know, maybe the people who won’t go to counseling but they’re crafty; maybe it will touch them.”
Colon would love to see Unstationary become “a beautiful brand of various ways of art therapy.” Recently she said she has seen a new desire and awakening within people, realizing they need to do some introspection. But, at the same time, not necessarily knowing how to do it.
Her dreams of where she would like to take the business are continuously growing. She envisions the structures being built with therapists or departments where they help children who are long-term hospital patients; maybe even with foster parents allowing them to be introduced to their new child.
“We really want seeds planted but we really want those seeds planted deeply,” Colon said.
With every kit created, the team tries to incorporate the “what now?” What happens after the structure is built? They want the answers found throughout the process to go far beyond those minutes or hours spent building it. The constructor is challenged to apply the lessons into everyday life; put the structure in sight to be reminded of the experience and thoughts provoked.
On top of creating new kits and working on a new book, Colon has also submitted the business to the TV show “Shark Tank.”
To learn more about the kits visit unstationary.store
. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram @unstationarystore.