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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Person

MT
Tatyana Isuk, owner of Mastera Kukol doll- and costume-making company

"I've always loved dolls. I've loved them since I was a child, and I still love them, so now I make them. It's such a joyous profession. People can't help but love these dolls. I make mascot costumes for advertising campaigns, parties, festivals and amusement parks. I also make smaller, personalized gift dolls on commission.

"Advertisers love using costumed mascots in their campaigns because they are larger than life and they always have a friendly expression. As soon as people see them, they gravitate toward them. They want to hug them and take pictures, and those are just the adults! Children present a dangerous situation for our mascot costumes. They love them so much they just tear them to pieces. If there is a tail to be grabbed, they'll grab it and hang on to it, five at a time.

"I arrived at this profession by accident. I went to an arts institute, where I specialized in making puppets for the theater. I then worked for a very famous theater, making hand puppets. I am not at liberty to give the name of theater because it is so world-renowned that I'm just a grain of sand in comparison with it. After I left the theater, my husband and I started making exquisite masks and small figurines. We started making some mascot costumes as well, and then, in 2003, this business exploded.

"We got our first order from Duracell and spent a whole month drawing up sketches of that bunny! It's hard work designing faces; the expression has to be friendly and inviting, and this is very hard to get across with polyester.

"We have worked with many different companies, but we have a long-standing relationship with Duracell and Nestle. We keep up with the changes in the designs of their mascots. For example, the Nesquik Bunny has been redesigned multiple times: He is more hip now; he wears a double T-shirt, short sleeve over long sleeve, just like the kids do.

"I love everything about this work, but my greatest challenge is finding capable people who can make the costumes. Most often we employ homemakers who know how to sew and have a great creative imagination. When a large order comes in, we all work around the clock. Our greatest pleasure is receiving thank-you letters with pictures of people enjoying our costumes."