Our design team, Leah Divito and I, have partnered with Austin-based nonprofit, JUST, to conduct design research which seeks to understand underrepresented communities seeking financial inclusion.

The sex industry is frequently marginalized, stigmatized and policed – and so are the women who work within it. In our last blog post, we introduced our research which specifically focuses on how women working in the sex industry relate to money and planning.

Our team seeks to understand how the volatility and stigma, often coupled with the sex profession, affect financial decision making for women in this industry. As we explore this area of research, we hope to discover opportunity for support in a system that can exclude and fail.

Over the last week, we’ve begun to speak to female-identifying performers including sex workers, strippers, dancers, cam-girls, phone sex operators, bartenders, amongst other professions.

We realized early in this process that recruiting participants would be challenging. Trust can be hard to come by – a possible consequence of the judgement and patrolling drawn to this industry.

We initially relied on mutual connections. We also approached women working in various strip clubs. We posted flyers in lingerie stores, bookstores, coffee shops, sex toy stores. We posted an ad on Craigslist. We tried many things. Some approaches worked better than others, but each taught us something new about the space we sought to understand.

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We were eventually able to conduct five formal interviews in our first week. Through questions and exercises, we discussed sexuality, finances, community and identity, and the roles it plays within and outside work. The stories which arise from these interviews are invaluable and inform all phases of our design process.

We will be sharing those stories with you soon.

Until then, if you or someone you know may be interested in chatting with us, please reach out to to get in touch. Your perspective is incredibly valuable to better understanding and ultimately designing solutions for this unique group of workers.