FOX 32 meets the man behind `I Survived Chiberia` gear - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

FOX 32 meets the man behind `I Survived Chiberia` gear

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Chicago man is cashing in on the polar vortex.

58 year old Bernie DiMeo came up with the "I Survived Chiberia" sweatshirt less than 24 hours after record-breaking sub-zero temperatures struck the Chicago area overnight on Sunday, January 5, 2014.

"I was talking to a friend of mine, we were supposed to meet for drinks one evening and it turned out to be the day that it was going to be 16 below and I wasn't thinking too much of it so I called him to confirm and he said let's just put this off until it's not like Siberia out there and I said what did you say? And he said, no. I thought he said Chiberia and he said but I'll tell you what, you should put that on a t-shirt," said DiMeo in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

DiMeo says the shirt was designed in 24 hours.

DiMeo says he sold 350 shirts the first week after the Polar Vortex struck the Chicago area and more than 500 shirts since then - he expects to sell thousands more.

"People in Chicago will complain about the weather to each other but we're tough, we can take it and we survived it kind of people and weather is always a big topic in Chicago," said Dimeo.

Dimeo says an Art Director helped design the popular shirt which features the city of Chicago skyline, a thermometer and white snow-flakes. He thanks social media for the shirts sky-rocketing popularity.

"We did it through Facebook and Twitter and any kind of weather related sites that we could find," said Dimeo.

Dimeo is a life-long Chicagoan who was forced to close his advertising agency in February of 2010 after the recession. He opened Rocco Shirts a few months later.

Dimeo also created an "I Survived the Blizzard of 2011" sweatshirt but he says the "I Survived Chiberia 2014" sweatshirt has been his all-time biggest hit.

29 year old Joy Vargas says the shirt brings back memories.

"I just remember it being really cold and having to start my car two to three times that day," said Vargas.

Vargas works in the same building as DiMeo. She was surprised to learn he was the creative force behind the popular shirt she heard about on social media.

"The phrase Chiberia is all over Facebook," said Vargas.

To get your own "I Survived Chiberia 2014" gear, visit Rocco Shirts online.

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