- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - Nikki Schattner never sits down.

She chases her two kids around. She teaches piano. She sells Mary Kay. And she makes Dudes.

Dudes are customized, stuffed “monsters” made out of repurposed fabrics and materials. No two Dudes are alike, and Schattner personalizes each one for her customers.

“It’s homemade by somebody,” she said. “It’s not made in a factory. People have their own ideas they can put into it.”

The Dudes are made with children in mind. They consist of 14 basic pieces and are typically made out of various textiles for different looks, as well as varying sensations. The different textures are especially helpful for children with autism or other sensory issues.

The Dudes range $20-35, depending on the size, materials and add-ons, such as skirts, masks, hair, capes and extra patches.

Customers typically message Schattner on her Dudes Facebook page and tell her what sort of theme or fabrics they want for their Dude. Common requests include sports teams, superheroes and cartoons.

Others are more personal and made out of a customer’s personal materials, such as a grandparent’s clothing or a baby’s blanket.

In November, Schattner met a woman on a plane who had lost her daughter. She asked Schattner to use her daughter’s old clothes to make a Dude for her niece.

“That one had extra tears added,” Schattner said.

While she makes the Dudes, Schattner always thinks about the adventures they will go on with the people who buy them. She makes Dudes for just as many adults as she does children, and they’re often for a particular sports team.

“I think about whether that Dude will be sitting with them watching the game,” she said.

Dudes started in March 2014 when one Schattner’s friends created the first little monster and posted a picture on Facebook. People started saying she should sell them, and her business began.

Schattner started helping that summer and took the reins this past spring when her friend decided to focus on photography.

Since she started in July 2014, Schattner’s made more than 350.

In that time, she’s gotten a fan out of Tobie Quinn Ferrel.

Schattner frequents vendor shows, craft shows and Anderson City Market, and she met Ferrel at a show in Alexandria.

Since then, Ferrel’s bought 25 to 30 dudes for herself, friends and family. She’s bought Dudes that are football, bowling, Harley Davidson, owl, superhero and dinosaur themed.

“It has special meaning,” Ferrel said. “If you give somebody something and you did it in what they like, they’ll cherish it that much more.”

Schattner makes Dudes, teaches piano and sells Mary Kay so she can stay home to raise her children, but she has the added benefit of creating something meaningful to people.

It’s common for people to come back to say that their Dude goes everywhere with them.

“It’s rewarding to be part of somebody’s story, especially with the design or the ones where they send me fabric,” she said. “For every Dude I’m making, I’m thinking about that person, even if I don’t know them.”

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Source: The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin, https://bit.ly/1WNQYCw

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Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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