During a swine flu outbreak in 2009, Irina Blok came up with the idea of fashion surgical masks. The sharks’ didn’t care for the idea:
- Barbara thought the idea of wearing masks was freaky.
- Kevin Harrington said that he couldn’t take face masks seriously.
- Daymond was positive that Americans would never wear them, maybe foreign countries would.
- Kevin O’Leary noted that the swine flu was over. Irina would need a whole new epidemic to be successful.
Come 2020 and everyone in the world was seriously wearing surgical masks. We had not only “a whole new epidemic,” but the worst in the US for more than 100 years according to the CDC.
Irina Blok came to the US from Russia to be a fashion designer. But she worked designing logos for the likes of Yahoo, Apple, Adobe and Google, including the iconic Google Android logo. She also worked on updating brands, such as HP, Visa and H&R Block. During the swine flu outbreak, she wanted to lighten the mood and created surgical masks with edgy designs (e.g., pig’s snout, skull). Her masks appeared on Fox News, and her website had 700,000 hits, but she sold only 200 masks; Irina did not have the funds to supply her business.
Robert was a little encouraging: He told Irina it would make a nice side business.
After the show, she returned to Google as a product-design lead. She has a line of “Only in Silicon Valley” greeting cards and “Unwelcome Mats” for the pandemic. She posted funny illustrations about COVID and quarantine on Twitter. She is philosophical about her failed fashion masks: “Timing is everything!”