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As Wedding Season Ramps Up, Vendors Seek To Improve Inclusivity, Pledge To Do Better After Racial Unrest

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Wedding season is slowly ramping up again. Of course, the pandemic's made it a difficult year for the industry, and now many vendors are working hard to tackle another issue: inclusivity.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shares how one Chicago business is playing a tiny part of a bigger solution.

Image is everything, especially in the wedding business.

There's love and marriage, and photos to capture it all.

Amanda Rapacz and her sister Megan Westman are new to this scene. Their new Chicago business, started mid-pandemic, rents fake flowers.

The product needed to look perfect for future ads being snapped by photographer Edgar Melero.

"You know, a lot of money when you're starting a business, is just going towards the LLC fees and the not so glamorous things," said Westman, co-founder of Silk Stern Collective.

A $10,000 grant from the Amber Grant Foundation helped pay for the photo shoot with Grace and Ivory dresses at Ella Elli in Lincoln Park.

The money was awarded to Silk Stem Collective because of its eco-friendly concept and the sisters' commitment to another cause: inclusivity.

"There is a lot of wedding content on the Internet already but a lot of it is not reflective of the diversity of customers in terms of age, size, race, gender, types of couples," Rapacz said.

Take a Google Image search for "bridal bouquet." The skin tone in most of the photos is white.

Tiffany Harper spoke about the problem to the Chicago Chapter of Wedding Industry Professionals association last summer.

WIPA Chicago Webinar -From Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion Presented by: Tiffany R. Harper

Posted by WIPA on Monday, August 10, 2020

Happily ever after doesn't need to look like Cinderella, she said.

"We've got way more diversity than just Black Americans. We've got the LGBTQ community. We've got transgender. We've got all kinds of different groups and marginalized people that want to be a part of this industry but, and don't fit that standard traditional model," Harper said.

Several wedding publications and planning websites pledged to do better after racial unrest.

Wedding Wire recently added a filtering option to support diverse vendors.

"I don't think there's any industry that's gotten it right yet. There's still work to be done everywhere, but the fact that people are recognizing and seeing it is a big change," Harper said.

Harper co-founded the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program, as well as the blog Uncolor Blind. She's worked as a diversity and inclusion consultant for several businesses.

Back at the photo shoot, model Toya Parker was beaming on the inside, thinking about future flower customers.

"I definitely want to be that person that they see that looks like them," Parker said.

A small role in someone's big day.

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