Trash the tip is a research project conducted for my design research masters course. 

Our initial goal was to improve the experience of restaurant workers in New York City. From there, our research focused on a specific challenge:

How do tip-based restaurant workers prepare for financial crisis?

hrough the use of design research and human centered design methodologies, our team suggested several recommendations and proposed the concept of a city-wide campaign that draws awareness to the financial uncertainty the tipping system creates. 

PROJECT

OVERVIEW

photo credit: Oyster Bar, NYC 

ROLE

DESIGN RESEARCHER, LEAD VISUAL DESIGNER

PROJECT DURATION

 2018 | 4 MONTHS

COLLABORATORS

Team of 5 

NYC'S RESTAURANT WORKERS IN CRISIS

DESIGN APPROACH

PHASE 1 

CONTEXT

DEFINING THE PROBLEM

NYC'S TIPPED WORKERS

NYC is know for it’s innovative food and restaurant culture. Restaurants are a driving force in New York’s economy. Restaurant and foodservice jobs in New York equal 9% of employment in the state and is estimated to amount to 51.6 billion in sales 2018. (1)

Unfortunately tipped workers remain one of the lowest paid employees. They are paid a lower minimum wage that starts at $2.13 an hour at the federal level (lower than the average federal minimum wage of $7.25) Therefore, a service worker’s salary depends heavily on tips from customers which in essence subsidize and determine their salary. This places workers in vulnerable and precarious situation while having to navigate their livelihood. 

PHASE 2 

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

The tipping system is divisive.

Immigration status is actually one of the main reasons why 97% of the garment industry is made up of immigrant women. Employers are able to take advantage of this by keeping wages low and using exploitative practices, because immigrant women have no safe way of reporting abuses. They risk being fired or deported. 

1

Tipped workers are incentivized to stay in lower-wage jobs in order to qualify for basic services like healthcare.

Garment Manufacturing can provide an entry point into the middle class for many but given the dwindling number of manufacturing firms and lack of support on a citywide level, it remains just that, an entry point. Fashion Design fields and Entrepreneurship prove to be an opportunity for economic mobility. By preparing immigrant women to hone both skill sets within manufacturing and design,  they are better equipped  to access multiple creative career pathways.

2

Cooperative Models can help make the creative field more diverse. 

The Creative Innovation economy, led by high-skilled, highly educated professionals, has been growing substantially and drives much of the city’s high-wage jobs. We also know the creative field is lacking in diversity.

 

In contrast, there is a drastic increase in the number of women minority owned local manufacturing businesses in NYC. The Cooperative business model structure can be an opportunity for BIPOC communities to enter the creative field while ensuring all workers are paid fairly. This is particularly important when dealing with immigrant and undocumented women who are more vulnerable to exploitation and unjust working conditions.

3

KEY INSIGHTS

PHASE 3 

SYNTHESIS & SCOPING

01

Intercept Surveys

​The founding coop members used a playful card sorting activity to assess their technical, soft skills, digital skills and their level of confidence as well as their career goals. 

 

02

One-on-One Interviews

Self identification can be used as a tool for empowerment.

Goal

To learn how members define themselves creatively during this transitional period in their careers.

03

Participatory Research

blurb on empahty map

Goal

To understand which materials & tools would be necessary to support the data gathering process mechanism so it would be useful and easily accessible by coop members. 

Activity

We led the conversation by using several prompts to inspire conversation, moments of share outs and emotional check ins. The learnings were then 

04

Empathy Map

blurb on empahty map

Goal

To understand which materials & tools would be necessary to support the data gathering process mechanism so it would be useful and easily accessible by coop members. 

Activity

We led the conversation by using several prompts to inspire conversation, moments of share outs and emotional check ins. The learnings were then 

05

Challenger Framework

blurb on empahty map

Goal

To understand which materials & tools would be necessary to support the data gathering process mechanism so it would be useful and easily accessible by coop members. 

Activity

We led the conversation by using several prompts to inspire conversation, moments of share outs and emotional check ins. The learnings were then 

DESIGN CONCEPTS

PHASE 4 

SUGGESTED  RECOMMENDATIONS 

PILOT

In March 2020, Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I was not able to officially pilot Workways. 

 

As we now know the pandemic hit immigrants, low income and people of color hardest. The coop members’ efforts and time were being used to work remotely producing masks to our front line responders. 

 

Workways would have been launched by holding a series of workshops similar to the last round of prototyping. The Coop Lead would host and facilitate the workshops with the coop members utilizing all the designed materials along with the feedback report. 

new HMW statement
How might we create an environment where restaurant workers are able to cover their expenses comfortably, save money consistently, afford healthcare, pay their rent, have a stable and consistent income, and the potential to advance their careers?

- May 2020 , Covid -19 pandemic