Building To Bambu

This is the 6th edition of updates to our capstone project based on research Ana and I conducted with low income families in quarter two at AC4D. You can get up to speed last week’s post.

Progress

This week Ana and I first established a two by two grid to check out the existent product landscape. Through this exercise we were able to see how To Bambu differentiated from existent services. Our value proposition is we’re not only designed to declutter closets, but help families in need by providing them equitable access to children’s goods. Through illustrating a few products, establishing a loose set of inventory and investigating payment structures we were better able to fill in the blanks on our service.

(Our two by two of the current children’s resale landscape.)

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Our website displays the basic skeleton of what we hope to achieve with vignettes. A donor/user page to better explain how our service works. We will provide insight as to why To Bambu is a better choice than competitors, and a choice of items to view. We’re midst set-up and are trying to curate a flow for both end users and donors. We’ve been researching how other sites are doing it right or wrong. Having to shift between customer and donor mindset is important in understanding how our website will work best.

We are considering each part, from families wanting to get rid of goods to the last email the buyers will get after completing a purchase, this service has to have proof of trust in every part of the process. During this process we also found out that there are several things parents don’t feel comfortable buying second hand, we will need to establish a list of do’s and don’ts on the website. Rules of what we will accept and what we will not because of hygiene, safety and many other variables. We will also need to do a list of things that must be in a product, for example; seatbelts in strollers, clean toys, cribs and strollers from after 2015 when the most recent safety standard for strollers became mandatory. All of these research insights have been very eye opening when thinking about our inspection and quality process.

(Our service blueprint for To Bambu) to better understand all the parts and players of our service at this point in time.

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Things Learned

To Bambu is specifically designed to not only declutter family closets, but it also helps those that need it the most by providing access to quality goods at attainable price points. We spoke with a classmate about how she went about setting up her business. She spoke of the in’s and out’s of LLC’s sole proprietorship, and the like. (Thank you Michelle). We also spoke with a school owner about difficulties they encountered when establishing their business, and holding money from deposits online. Lastly we discovered parents really are looking to get rid of stuff. We have a few potential donors ready to give us their children’s goods. (Some of which still have tags on.)

Progress and Prospects

We made great progress on understanding the scope of our service. Whether To Bambu serves as a portfolio piece, or a viable business, getting our hands dirty is proving to be invaluable. As we continue to define our product and revisit how we can serve people we’ll  continue to share with those willing to listen.

In the final week of studio we hope to develop a logo, polish our website interface, post inventory, establish user and donor flows and start prototyping.

 

 

Designing A Service Product For Low-Income Families

This is the fifth week of our studio class in which we are developing a service product to better benefit low income families. Our idea is prompted by stories we heard from families Ana and I spoke with in quarter two at AC4D.

Progress This Week

We made storyboards highlighting the current concept of our service product. In addition we created storyboards to show what the end user of our service product might look like. 

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Storyboard of current concept.

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Storyboard for customers.

We revised our lean canvas and product pitch. We did some math on renting a space, explored further advertising platforms, and contacted parent groups who may be willing to chat with us. This revision of existing materials was beneficial in understanding that this is feasible. It also brought us to an understanding of where we could fit in the existent landscape of products and services for children’s gear.

We Learned

Our team learned that it’s important to listen and document feedback, but take what you will. We learned we care about earth enough to not want to pump out another subscription service or new toy, but rather to use what exists already, and solidify a place for ourselves in the resale/reuse market. To better benefit the planet and families who need it

Going Forward

With a more solidified idea of what our service product actually is we hope to complete the following in the week ahead.

  • Develop a pilot
  • Visit existent consignment shops
  • Obtain a donation
  • Attempt sale of a piece of product

 

 

Recycling, Reusing, and Revisiting Ideas

Overview

This fourth week, of our studio class, Ana and I were tasked to develop on concepts we generated after our research around low-income parents. We focused on a singular concept to ideate on. This allowed a deeper understanding of the services we can provide. Through interviews with potential users on our concept ideas last week we are focusing our efforts on benefitting new families through reuse. 

We Created

A product called To Bambu (working title). We currently aim to serve as a reliable mediator for child care goods that new families need, whilst other families have, through reuse.

  • A pitch deck that serves as a summation or meta version of where our product could fit in a wide and ever-changing market landscape.
  • The second deck is a 10 slide summation of specifics considered thus far. We talked through, potential finances, pathways to customers, our perceived value and more.
  • A landing page, to measure interest, have another domain, and learn about the power of google ads.

We learned we need to think about our concept from every angle. We heard from families (the true subject matter experts) toy-store owners, and startup advisors who gave us feedback on our concept. This highlighted variables that are essential to the functionality of our idea. Creating and thinking through frameworks for design concepts is no simple task. It is extremely beneficial to consider the minutia when trying to make a product to benefit others.

We Shared Our Idea

We gathered feedback from subject matter experts (SME) that proved extremely insightful yet seemingly impossible in scope. Here are just a few things we heard from SME’s;

  • “Could users feel like part of a charity if we sell second hand?”
  • “How on earth did you come up with that name?”
  • “What are the testing factors we can implement to assure quality?”

Thinking Ahead

With our feedback in tow, and a fresh week ahead we hope to, create artifacts early, get feedback quickly and discuss our idea with anyone willing to listen. As the line between products and services continues to thin, we find we might be able to find a place for this to exist. We’re excited to be able to break and rebuild this idea a few more times in order to create something actually beneficial.

Ideating Services For Families Who Need Them

This week Ana and I continued to push our research around non-traditional families towards developing concepts for products. Our task this week was to generate 200 design concepts for products and services that could actually see the light of day to help the humans we spoke with. It was a large task, and as this is our first time doing this, it proved difficult but a beneficial exercise! We were told volume is key for this assignment. Amidst this mass of ideas we’ve generated, we feel we can relate to the phrase “There’s gold in them thar hills”.

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We struggled to navigate through our research initially, as being a parent and having a child is such a personal journey. A parent is to provide encouragement, support, and access to their child to develop into the best version of themselves. A parent is a child’s first teacher, and ideally, their best. We listened to the words of the parents we spoke with as best we could. Recalling thought provoking moments around prioritizing their child’s well being over their own. We also reflected on tears we witnessed during interviews talking about health issues their child faced, in turn affecting the whole family.

Through revisiting our initial breakdown of the data and artifacts we had collected and created we were able to start chipping away at some initial ideas. We pushed the conversations we had to the brink. Through reframing, insight combination, and iterating on things we had heard things began to come to light. Through these processes we began to generate ideas for products to be.

Our Method

Deriving information from our interviews, some of our design ideas were truly off the wall.  We found reframing to be our most preferred method of ideation, as we were able to imagine our participants in different environments, looked at them from new perspectives, and what they embodied in scenarios unknown.

We’ll start with, a daycare, for example, in a new environment, say a prison! (Note that there are no criticisms in ideation!) Primary user goal; to provide respite for prison/state employees. Implications and insights

Reframing forced a shift in our semantic perspective around all parts of our research. This was so helpful and made us think quickly. At some point we started to feel like we were watching paint dry looking at our existing data, it was exciting to get new ideas on the wall. Neither Ana and I are parents, and at times it’s been difficult to communicate our research to others that think we’re covering well explored territory. There’s always room for more.

Insight combination was another method of ideation that we ultimately struggled with. As a team of two, we possessed a body of data that reflects our team size. We felt that under our timeline amidst juggling other projects we weren’t able to experiment in this part of the process as much. Through asking why, we found our wheels spinning in reflection to our dataset. Insight combination also took quite more time than reframing. We gave it our best go, but ultimately found it more helpful for revisiting and fine tuning insights. Throughout these two processes, and generating useful thoughts from our ideas that sums up how we got our vast set of design concepts.

Why So Many Design Concepts?

I found that through exhausting all sorts of avenues of possible products or services the ideas that mattered stood out that much more. The viable design ideas are the gold in our hill of ideas. It’s evident that in certain facets of product and service design this rapid, exhaustive ideation process does not happen. Companies carry themselves far down the line of developing (and in some cases creating) a product without understanding and investigating their user as deeply as they should. Although certain things sell, their life expectancy isn’t very long. Take bottled clean air  for example. Bottle it, market it, sell it, and then have the residual waste last for years on end. While we may not be able to actually implement our hotel/resort that is ran by children for children, we sure do see value in providing a free food delivery service for SNAP users.

Next Steps

In the coming week we’ll be trimming the fat off our design concepts. We hope to bring in our classmate and others to see which ideas stick or sound the most useful. With this set of “gold” we’ll be able to develop and visualize the ideas further and test them as best we can. We look forward to feedback, developing a pitch of sorts and starting to create something that could maybe be ready to market. We’re excited going forward as the quarter continues on. It’s exciting to be in this phase of AC4D. Designing products that are made to better humankind. We hope to create something that can save future families from stress and suffering.

Iterating Off Insights For Low-Income Families

We’ve started off our Q3 Studio course full of insight re-definition and pushing provocations. These new provocations are the jumping off point and will eventually be the backbone for products we develop and possibly pitch to outside stakeholders. Through our insights we’ve been able to more clearly group together the commonalities and differences we heard throughout our interviews. Our concept maps are allowing us to infer further information from our rather diverse set of participant interviews.

One of the first concepts we began to dissect was the division of labor within the home. Ana created the below diagram highlighting the cycle of a day of one of our participants in contrast to her spouse.

It’s clear, even in our smaller data set, the stereotype of women doing the household work stands true. Women simply do more than men in the household, some of which, in addition to a full time job. There simply are not enough hours in the day or week in order to complete everything for some of these figures.

An additional concept we began to map out was access to federal assistance. Throughout our interviews we heard from single parents or couples that were reliant on a system for food or funding. These systems ultimately did more harm than good at various points in a family’s journey. We realized through examining TANF that welfare has taken on an entirely new, convoluted identity that is hard to make sense of. The below graphic highlights the rather basic yet invasive eligibility determination process a family must go through in order to receive benefits. The additional map show’s the many names of TANF across the United States, each with their own set of requirements and application processes. Confusing? I thought so too.

 

We’re learning more about the diverse set of hurdles non-traditional families and even traditional families encounter on a day to day basis. Whether it be from societal norms, or their desire to try and provide a better life for themselves and their kin. We’re focusing more on the motherly – woman powered side of things.

This week we fell short on developing concepts for a future product, we more so explored bigger ideas that we found interesting in our conversations throughout interviews.  Going forward we’ll be ideating about products and services that can actually provide aid to these people, not just ideas themselves. In all, it was a beneficial start to our Saturday classes.

Access to concept models:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fDZjECosNR59O3XQMCXFEvWAGO2Hq0pH

 

The First Phase Of An Ethical Framework

Being part of something new has always felt like a gift. As part of the first proper ethic’s class at AC4D I knew I would be able to reflect on some of the things I’ve learned through experience that have helped me through an ethically challenging place. Four values I want to remain in my ethical framework are empathy, openness, humility, and self-awareness. In no particular order…

I viewed this assignment as something that I wanted to carry with me well past the program. I hope to continue doing research into areas unfamiliar to me. I thought about things that have served me well in hindsight of experiencing hardship in job’s I’ve had.

I believe that ethics are something you carry with you, they’re inherent. They are based in values that were instilled in you as a child. Others come from experiences you have that forcibly change how you have to view your current situation. I think that they should be adapted and improved upon, at times forgotten, and then put into practice again. I shared four values I feel that are integral pieces of my framework. To be improved upon and practiced whenever possible. After discussion with one of the teachers of this class I was encouraged to have more questions than answers, I hope that you’ll read them and know that this is not prescriptive. Just things I want to carry forward in my life and work.

Values
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Empathy
I feel it can pave a path for emotive conversation. Through empathy we can gain informational results of higher quality. Through empathy grows trustworthiness and through trust is a better relationship. This is something I’ve learned through loss groups. I have lost close loved ones to suicide. In turn, I have been a part of many loss groups and conversations with other survivors of suicide. When meeting in these groups a primary rule is to listen. It’s through listening where I feel we can begin to put empathy the most.

Self-awareness
It’s important to be cognizant of where you’re coming from in a project. What has your pathway provided to you in your current position? Are you aware of privilege? Are you familiar with bias? Are you aware of privilege to even consider these factors? I believe being able to recognize yourself as an individual separately from others you are working alongside is a benefit to the environment and others.

Humility
Remembering that you’re a part of something bigger is integral to a project. No matter what title you wear, pay-grade you possess, or school you went to, the ability to speak with everyone on the same plane is of utmost importance. Whatever you bring to a project is important, but it’s also important to recognize you’re trying to identify and bring to light is not for you. It’s for the user you’re designing for. No passing judgement for the persons you aim to benefit

Openness
Exposure to new things can benefit a human being. Experiencing a lifestyle different than your own, interacting in a language you’re not familiar with can force you to view a situation differently. Openness and attentiveness to your inner feelings, ability to adapt and curiosity into things outside your norm can all help you identify.

Challenging My Framework
I gained and have challenged these values through some of my own experiences. In 2015 I worked for a now defunct English language school in Shanghai, China. It was a charade of sorts. Daily I was asked to sing and dance in front of random families who were pulled in off the street for the sale of english classes. The curriculum felt very sales oriented, and ultimately the most effort was put into the showcases for the parents of the students, not on actual learning. I felt humiliated at times, literally singing and dancing in front of 2 and 3 year olds and sometimes their parents. However, I had to do this job. My visa was attached to this, and I was in over my head with student debt. I found myself practicing humility. What made me think I was above this job? Why did I feel this type of way? I was forcibly challenging myself to readjust my personal view on what this organization was doing.

The second situation I found myself challenged in was the job I worked after Happy Goal Kids, as a contractor for the Department of Defense, in the Pentagon. I was working on contracts and papers to have military uniforms changed in Afghanistan. It felt strange to be contributing to the development of something that I couldn’t fully grasp. I felt I was exercising self-awareness. It took a moment (months) to realize how strange and out of place I felt. I learned through self assessment that I wanted to benefit people, not support divide.

Through our current research with JUST – our capstone partner I have had to exercise all of these values. My team-mate Ana and I have had to speak with quite a number of parents to understand their additional responsibilities that come along with having a child. I felt so scared, uncomfortable, and unsure as to what to ask this group of humans. I had bias, I had ideas of what the conversations would be like, and I had to check them at the door. Throughout some of our interviews Ana and I were referred to as “us” or equals to these parents. Realizing that my own distorted views of parents vs not parents brought me right back to assessing these values I shared with you here. Alongside a very, very simple graphic of my values on ‘pillars’.

Below I share a visual from one of our participants in the JUST capstone research project. We asked our participant to write down a paycheck timeline for us, and then write where their major bills were due. Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 4.07.46 PM

It was through this participants explanation of their timeline where they explained that despite their hardships, and overall feelings toward their grim financial situations that their family was the most important thing to them. They valued love, giving, and gratefulness over any monetary value they did or didn’t have. It was here where I remembered that these values or ethical nuggets are far more important than many other things.

Emergent Technologies And Thumb Scanning Out Of Work

Throughout this quarter we’ve been working on constructing our own ethical framework to better guide us through complex problems. I encountered an ethical dilemma I can’t seem to shake while living in China. I taught at a for profit school called Happy Goal Kids. It felt like working at the McDonald’s of English schools in Shanghai. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Throughout my time at Happy Goal my privacy was challenged quite often. I recall one point most specifically, a thumb scanner to get into work. I was required to scan in, and out, each time I left the facility. It felt like quite a risk to me. This company, who I already didn’t trust had the ability to know my whereabouts within their building. It felt strange.

China is even more prevalent in the news today in regards to it’s treatment towards Uighur people in the Xinjiang region. A new technology is being used against a group of people, for reasons that just don’t line up.

Something I wanted to pose to my ethics class at AC4D was their tolerance to low and high risk situations in emergent technologies. While China is using facial recognition to track Uighur people, we are logging into our phones, retinal scanning into schools, and thumb scanning ourselves out of work. Our physical attributes are being used as identifying factors. The things we are being asked to opt into may pose more risk than we’re able to recognize at this point in time.

I gave each member of the class the below strips of paper
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I then asked people to write down where they would feel comfortable using these factors of identification. Whether it be civic, personal, or professional use. From there I asked the class to get up and place where they felt each piece fell on a low-risk high-risk axis.

JUST Capstone Research Update: Part 3 – Understanding Non-Traditional Familial Decisions

This is part three in our ongoing Capstone project with JUST whose mission is to invest in low-income, female entrepreneurs to create more resilient communities in America and therefore to create a more just world where people have the chance to live with less stress and more joy. Ana and I shifted our focus to better understand the continued challenges women face today

Our Focus
We are looking to focus on non-traditional families and how they decide, navigate, and communicate financial decisions and division of labor within their home. Children limit a parent’s ability to work, there is a constraint on the actual amount of money a parent is able to bring in due to having less time.

Our Objectives
Our main interest was to learn and understand how non-traditional families go about making financial decisions and how they divide the household labors. We have found that the costs of housing, health care and education are consuming ever larger shares of household budgets, and have risen faster than incomes. Today’s middle-class families are working longer, managing new kinds of stress and shouldering greater financial risks than previous generations did. They’re also making different kinds of tradeoffs, like some that we found in our research like having part time jobs or no jobs at all because of the cost of Childcare, they prefer staying at home and taking care of their kids, but that has financial consequences, and other types of tradeoffs that we are going to find in the themes we mention in this blog post.

The objectives of this research are:
To understand how value is perceived in non-traditional families.
To identify and understand the emotional and monetary journey of parents.
To explore how a non-traditional family decides, navigates and communicates their monthly expenditures.
To explore how non-traditional families divide labor in regards to household tasks.
To understand how a non-traditional family’s access to their network benefits their livelihood.
To empathize in the decision-making process of a non-traditional family.

We spoke to ten participants in order to start doing the themes phase, which are patterns that emerged through the contextual interviews we conducted. We have stories that support the themes we have found.

Theme 1: There is an unarticulated gap between low and middle class

Many of our participants told us how much they struggle to get government aid because of the amount of money they make or having aid taken away because of a small income raise. They are expressing their concerns when it comes to food, health, education and other types of aid. We found that this is the case for many participants.

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Mary: She lives with her boyfriend Nate and they have a 2-year-old boy Eric. She has been living in Austin for ten years, after moving from southern Alabama, where she was born. She is the main bread-winner of the family, working for Government and Nate works part time at a bar, during the day he is a stay at home dad and takes care of little Eric. Childcare is very expensive and it makes more sense for him to stay home than to have him in a daycare. Mary expressed how saavy she is in looking for deals and other ways to save money. However, she and her family is having a lot of trouble because of where she falls in the “income bracket”.

“When I first got this job, Eric was six months old. And I did look into a lot of daycare options, and we make too much money to qualify for government assistance.”

Samantha: She is a single mom with two daughters, one is 17 years old and the other 7 years old. She lives in Austin, but had lived her entire teenage life in the Czech Republic where she got married to a marine, moved to the United States and had her first daughter. After a series of difficulties in her life she now has a full-time job that gives her the flexibility to work and also take care of her two daughters, which she is very grateful. However Samantha has experienced this government assistance issue many times. She told us a story of how she was granted a raise which rescinded her access to SNAP benefits. The minute raise did not add up, and she was left shortchanged in being able to provide adequately for her children., “That raise put me $50 a year over the poverty level. So, they canceled the $120 I was getting for food stamps.” She currently volunteers and works at her daughters’ school to offset the cost they have for attending.

Theme 2: I feel I’m stuck in the cycle of living in ‘survival mode’

Many of our participants expressed living in this constant cycle of ‘survival mode’. The money they make each paycheck disappears in the first few days because of the expensive debt, rent, insurance, childcare and other things they have to take care of. They feel stuck in this cycle of never having enough money, regardless of how many jobs they have.

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Sara: She is a new single mother with three kids that she has 50% custody of. The oldest is 12 years old, then the middle is 10 and her youngest is 7 years old. She just got separated but expressed that her ex-husband and her had good terms and worked together for their children’s sake. She currently has three sources of income, one part-time job at an independent bookstore in Austin, as a local children’s musician and monthly support from her ex-husband.
“Between that [singing] and book people in my monthly support from my ex husband, I’m able to survive. I’m not able to take a bunch of vacations or buy myself a new car or anything like that but I’m able to not be worried too much about paying my rent.”

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Ivan: Ivan is the male part of a marriage in which his wife is the primary earner, together they have a 3 year old named Brian. Ivan had been in the music industry in Austin and had a fair bit of responsibility at a popular establishment in town. The establishment unexpectedly closed shop and Ivan was left without a job. He is now working two jobs and seeks stability amongst him not being able to make ends meet. He juggles these two jobs and still struggles to make ends meet while not being able to be around his family.

We’re excited to continue our research and learn more about this unseen societal gap. As we continue we’ll update our themes and start formulating insights. Keep your eyes peeled for progress updates as we continue.

Ethical Implications on Data Rights in the Future

Having just moved to Austin it felt like a right of passage to check out Austin City Limits. I’m not one for big crowds, but I did it regardless. I purchased my ticket via their online platform and waited for it to arrive in the mail. Upon receipt I got a rather colorful wristband, with a chip inside. Alongside it were instructions to plug my credit card information in for easy checkout at the festival, less lines, more time… Our recent discussions in AC4D’s newest ethics class really got me thinking.

For my presentation this week I wanted to imagine the AC4D class of 2020 at South by Southwest 2030. A future Austin, full of even more bike lanes and driverless cars, scooters are more commonplace and hopefully safer than ever. I imagine our class is in full swing of the massive event. Ride-sharing, purchasing, and swiping our way through the event. This new cashless experience at south by is nothing out of the ordinary in future Austin. My classmates and I have our financial information, government identification, and personal information baked into our personal devices. These devices grant us access to and from venues, enable us to purchase things, and allow us to verify our identity at event check-in’s. It’s simple, it’s seamless, it’s easy.

future austin

South by Southwest comes to an end, and we’re back to normalcy. People return to work, fly home, and continue school.

Just a week later the SXSW servers have been hacked and we get the email. Your data has been compromised. Our banking, government and personal information has been hacked and is out and amongst the dark forces of the internet to use it at will. What do you do?

I posed the class with the chance to save only one of the three options posed above, and to share a bit about why. No matter what option people choose there are a myriad of things that could prove problematic later down the line with their other pieces of information out in the ether.

General Data Protection Rights are present in Europe and enable a person to know where and why their data is being used or stored. Did anyone signing up for ACL wristbands understand where and why their data is being stored?

Is There HOPE for HOPE Farmer’s Market?

Learning design methodology is a lot about trusting the process. When gathering data, it is not clear what will come of it. When patterns emerge, it is not clear if they matter.

Our project with HOPE Farmers Market was the first design project that Leah, Dan, and I have embarked on, and it has been a learning experience for all of us. This week, we were really excited to get to the why.

Throughout our first quarter at AC4D we developed a research plan and began interviewing with as many folks involved with the market we could speak with, eventually reaching 17. Our goal by having these conversations with people from the market helped us to see patterns.
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Surrounded by intense amounts of utterances at the studio we whittled down our data into more refined themes. We then moved to the service slicing portion of our research to further dissect conversations we had to make sense of the data line by line.
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Our insights:

Design insights are breakthroughs that reveal behavior patterns and drive bold decisions. Insights tell us not just what people do and when, but why.

We started with what we know:

The Vendor Experience
For vendors, the fee to get into HOPE market is low, and with this low barrier to entry attracts vendors with little experience. Vendors are paying HOPE to provide access to customers , currently the market is unable to provide an adequate amount of customers that come to the market.

A story we found compelling was from a longstanding vendor; Janet. Janet has a strong customer base and makes some fantastic juice. However, Janet’s story goes far beyond her product. Coming from the caribbean Janet is a single mother who started her business not just out of passion, but out of need. She was approaching a divorce and knew additional income was needed to support her child. Janet works full time in the mental health field but pours passion into her juice recipe, which she inherited from her grandmother. She saw her juice as an extension of her heritage, that she brings to market and benefits from. However, with the uncertainty of traffic that HOPE receives she realizes she could make more elsewhere.

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The Customer Experience
Customers of HOPE FM expect to see an abundance of fruit and vegetables, it being a farmers market and all. However, that’s not exactly what’s present in the market today. We heard from a variety of customers who were confused by the experience. We had loyal customers seeking their favorite item, which wasn’t there on any given Sunday. We spoke with someone who used to attend Mueller market but moved into the neighborhood and found the market to be sad. Something that isn’t being fulfilled. The market lacks actual produce, there is plenty of expensive snacks and an array of friendly faces, however this doesn’t entirely satiate the expectation of fruits and vegetables people have been bred to expect at a market.

People want to be a part of something that is thriving, not something that asks them to suspend their expectations about their imagined experience. In a society where “the customer is always right”, HOPE does not prioritize them.

These vendor and customer insights brought us to our problem statement; By calling this a farmers market, there is an inherent value promise being made and broken to the customers and the vendors.

We’ve synthesized several appropriate options for the market’s potential future. We realize that if the market is going the direction that is has been, there is no hope for its future. It is suffering and dying. It would be a viable option to simply let it run it’s full course and die. We are, however, aware that as design thinkers, generating alternative options is essential to our ability to provide value to their situation. So we have been working to take a step back and assess the larger picture that HOPE operates within.

We’ve been working closely with market leadership and have cultivated some real relationships. However, as our research and narrative around this project continues we can’t help but address the massive shift that’s happening in the area surrounding the market at Plaza Saltillo. Austin is weird, there’s no doubt about it. However it seems to be getting harder and harder to find weird along 6th street amongst the changing East Austin scene.

HOPE farmer’s market was housed in an abandoned artist’s warehouse not far from its current location, ten years ago. East Austin was a drastically different place then, with a high crime rate, and not nearly as many shiny condos in view. The condo’s that surround Plaza Saltillo house thousands of new-to-Austin residents and an entirely different lifestyle than the homes that surround it.

The entire neighborhood is growing and changing at a pace unmatched by any other city in the nation right now. The challenges this small market faces are in part, societal. If the market wants to be successful going forward you need to understand who the people are who are the new majority of residents in the neighborhood.

The competitive environment in which the market lives enables an exciting new space for the market to operate in. The concrete proof of growth in the area is changing the narrative of old Austin. We want to find out how the business’ of old have integrated into the community and find out what is working for them.

Here is what we want to know and who we would want to talk to in going forward with rebirthing HOPE in its new contextualized environment:

What do other old businesses do in this area? They didn’t all die, how have they survived?
Who lives in this neighborhood now? What do they want? What are the needs of the community that need to be met now?
It’s a controversial but time for change for the neighborhood’s economy and culture. We want to better understand what this means for businesses in East Austin in general.
What are some ways that budding entrepreneurs are being supported in Austin? What are the gaps in the current offerings?