Highlighting Diversity at the ILEA-NCC Virtual Vendor Showcase

Championing diversity isn’t just the flavor of the month when it comes to choosing vendors for an event. There are many benefits to seeking out vendors from different backgrounds and offering unique products and services.  It gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents in ways they may not have had access to. It elevates usually marginalized people and their businesses. And it creates a more inviting experience for attendees if they see an event that reflects them and their values.

We were excited to bring this to life with the ILEA-NCC Virtual Vendor Showcase produced in March 2021. I’ve been on the Board of the International Live Events Association of Northern California for one year and going on to serve a second, and heavily involved in the Programs & Education Committee throughout these past two years. The vendor showcase is always an important opportunity for vendors who might not have had access to a membership association or felt that they were ready to put themselves out there in a supportive, meaningful environment.

But as with many things this year, we wanted to do it differently and help deliver value back to ILEA-NCC and to the event community at large. Being of mixed identity and having an immigrant parent, we understand the importance of championing diversity. And this year has reminded us of the difference it makes to open the doors of opportunity to those who don’t normally see them.

What does diversity in events actually mean?

It’s easy to default to gender and racial diversity in the vendors we showcase as a way to integrate it into our events. But true accessibility goes beyond that. When we look at ways to lower the barriers for everyone to participate in an event, we really do mean everyone – from those of diverse backgrounds to those with disabilities.

When we can be mindful of how we do this at every step of the event planning process, we can truly embrace the benefits of having a diverse, inclusive, equitable event and knowing that, in doing so, we’re elevating communities that need it.

How did we bring diversity into our Vendor Showcase?

My co-chair, Roeh Quisao, and I shared a vision for designing an experience that truly highlighted valuable vendors in the event community. We wanted to design an event that was diverse, equitable and inclusive and we were proud to accomplish that in a few different ways.

  • Of the 25 vendors featured, 17 were new faces to the organization and represented many backgrounds.
  • We created a space for the vendors and attendees to connect meaningfully through the digital platform – giving them the flexibility to break out into direct chats with the vendors throughout the day. 
  • Our digital platform allowed us to find creative ways to tell the stories of each of our vendors in a way that was accessible to all. 
  • We curated a panel of expert planners to share their insights and provide support for our attendees.
  • We awarded a DEI grant to 5 vendor applicants, opening up the accessibility of our showcase to those who may not have been able to participate before.

How can I practice diversity in my event?

  1. Take a look at your usual list of vendors. Who are they? Are they representing all communities around you?
  2. Seek out new vendors. Below you can see the list of the amazing vendors we were able to showcase at our event as a great starting point.
  3. Build relationships with these vendors. Vendor relationships are more than giving them a call when you need something, but understanding how you can both help each other.
  4. Break the usual patterns of behavior. Don’t do it just because that’s the way it’s always been done. We have learned this past year that breaking old habits, reinventing and thinking of new, creative solutions is possible for the betterment of our communities.

Vendors To Support from the ILEA-NCC Virtual Vendor Showcase

Event Planners

  1. Amersive Events – Wedding and event planner
  2. A Monique Affair – Wedding planner in the Bay Area
  3. BB Events – Event planners for social change

Entertainment

  1. Airsun Productions – Bay Area DJ
  2. Catalyst Arts Entertainment – Entertainment and experiential activations from events including branded activations, dancers and photo studios.
  3. Circosphere – Wow-factor entertainment for corporate events and private parties
  4. Odd-o-T’s Entertainment – Specializes in atmospheric shows, variety arts productions and specialty acts

Venues

  1. Giants Enterprises – The team behind events at Oracle Park
  2. Moxy Oakland Downtown – Hotel, meeting space and event venue in Oakland
  3. The Clubhouse at Peacock Gap – Wedding venue, meeting space and social event centre in Marin County

Decor and Gifts

  1. Bohemian Glam – Decadent and wedding-themed decorations
  2. Good Wave Gifts by Amling – Thoughtful, corporate and client gifts
  3. HipMaps – Personalized maps, perfect for weddings, special events, conferences and more
  4. Reclamation Etchworks – Sustainably-made, bespoke gifts for the home bar including their flagship wine decanter
  5. Reno Tahoe Promotions – Custom screen-printing, embroidery, promotional items and client gifts
  6. Sellebrate App – Platform to buy and sell any pre-loved or used wedding decor

Catering

  1. Creative Ideas Catering – Full-service catering company with sustainable practices and a global fusion of Latin flavors
  2. Root Cellar Catering Co. – Full-service catering specializing in house-made, Americana fare with an artisanal twist
  3. The Hugh Groman Group – Green-certified catering company serving locally sourced food
  4. Wahpepah’s Kitchen – Catering company for Native foods, led by Crystal Wahpepah from the Kickapoo Nation of Oklahoma

Tech and AV Services

  1. CA&C Video Productions – Video production including live streams, digital upgrades and editing
  2. Mountain View Staging (MVS) – Virtual production services and equipment rental
  3. The Training Arcade by The Game Agency – A gamification platform for virtual training, education and live events
  4. Vivi Party – A social platform to host virtual and hybrid events

Other Services

  1. Artisan Kind – Brand and web design for creatives and coaches
  2. Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation – Bus charters for individuals, corporations, airport transfers and more

 

Have more questions about ILEA-NCC or championing diversity in your next event? Becca can help. Get in touch with her here.

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