Lifestyle PR expert, Tara Tomes, founded EAST VILLAGE. in 2013 after working both agency and client-side in Birmingham and London, delivering campaigns for brands including Stella McCartney, Style Birmingham Live and International Dance Festival Birmingham. With over a decade of experience, Tara wanted to create an agency that she would be proud to work for, centred around a strong team culture and delivering PR with personality.

Tara has three key passions: PR, people and paying-it-forward.

Starting with PR… Tara is a true PR pro and drives EAST VILLAGE. forward as one of the Midlands’ most exciting and innovative lifestyle PR agencies. Her experience working with local independent retailers, internationally renowned fashion brands, acclaimed entertainment venues, award-winning arts venues and everything in between, means that TeamEV taps into strategy and expertise that spans more than 13 years in the industry.  

As well as EAST VILLAGE., Tara shares her expertise as a lifestyle PR consultant, working independently with small business brands to help them power up their PR and marketing strategies. In addition, she sits on the Midlands Retail & Hospitality Forum (MRF) committee, which champions the evolution of the retail and hospitality sectors by providing a local platform for education and engagement. She is also co-founder of Birmingham Sales and Events Forum; connecting sales and events professionals from across Birmingham’s hospitality sectors to encourage partnerships, collaborations, and the sharing of best practice.

Tara is regularly invited to speak at events, both in person and online, as both a guest speaker and panel member. Some of her recent engagements include events for Selfridges Birmingham, TAG Network West Midlands, and Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Putting people at the centre of everything is really important to Tara and forms the foundations on which EAST VILLAGE. is built. She is passionate about giving young people the opportunity to enter the world of PR, which can be seen through EV’s Grow Your Own internship programme, and is an advocate for driving diversity in PR. Tara is a founding member of the BPFS Black Leaders Network; a group of established leaders from across the Business, Professional and Financial Services (BPFS) sector in the West Midlands with the objective of demonstrating that diverse and inclusive leadership is a true driver for change and the key to unlocking the sector’s growth.

Networks form the foundation of Tara’s career, having started out on the Birmingham Future Marketing Committee and then spending 10 years as a member of BPS Birmingham, including becoming Chair and sitting on the Board. Her commitment to making the city the best place to live and work was further seen through her involvement in Colmore Business District, where she sat on the Board and chaired the Place Marketing Working Group for a number of years. She, most recently, joined TAG Network West Midlands as a Non-Executive Director.

With a strong belief that we should help those who need it most, Tara is a founding trustee of Let’s Feed Brum, which works with local hospitality brands to supply food and drink to people living on the streets, as well as street mentoring to help signpost them to the great services across the city. She also sits on the management committee for iShelter, which manages Tabor House, a Birmingham-based accommodation project for people experiencing homelessness, and she is a patron for SIFA Fireside. In addition, Tara also sits on the West Midlands Development Board for Breast Cancer Haven.

Tara is a lifestyle PR expert who wants to make a difference; switching up the way agencies work, driving diversity across the industry, and showcasing the importance of connecting communities.

Hattie D'Souza
Hattie D’Souza
Account Director

Since interning with EV. during the summer of 2015, Hattie returned as as a full time member of the team in the same autumn and is now second in command to Tara, as Account Director.

Having graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English, the written word is Hattie’s forte, which has benefited a wealth of EV. clients over the past few years. From creative copywriting that hits the headlines, to stellar social content that drives digital engagement, she’s the team’s go-to for proof-reading and grammatical accuracy.

In her role as Account Director, Hattie oversees team management and productivity, ensuring that everyone is working in the most effective way to deliver the best results for clients. Alongside developing senior members of the team, she manages accounts seamlessly to ensure that we’re always ahead of the curve and thinking creatively. She also supports Tara on identifying and driving new business across the lifestyle PR and marketing field.

An avid believer in Birmingham’s young people, Hattie has sat on both the Diversity & Inclusion and Mentoring committees for BPS Birmingham Future, and shares Tara’s passion for driving diversity in PR. In addition, she is also a founding trustee of Let’s Feed Brum, a volunteer-led organisation that provides food, drink, essential supplies and friendship to those living on the streets of Birmingham.

Aside from being a pernickety grammar pedant, Hattie is an avid reality TV watcher. She lives her life vicariously through Gogglebox and believes that if you don’t spend time Keeping Up With the Kardashians you should probably just Bake Off.

Jodie Tipper
Jodie Tipper
Account Manager

Jodie first joined #TeamEV for work experience as part of the agency’s Grow Your Own initiative. She returned in 2018 as a permanent member of the team, after graduating from Birmingham City University with a First Class Honours in Media & Communications.

Jodie is now Account Manager, leading on both strategy and delivery for client across industries including arts and culture, hospitality and the Third Sector. From regional lifestyle PR launches to high level national campaigns, Jodie is always focused on client objectives and delivering strategic ideas seamlessly.

Her contribution to the team goes beyond our discovery of Stoke oatcakes; Jodie’s flair for design and social media means that we’re boosted not just by targeted media relations, but also engaging digital content. She’s always the first one to discover the latest social media trend and you can thank her for TeamEV’s cheesy TikToks too!

Outside of EAST VILLAGE., Jodie volunteers for Let’s Feed Brum and manages the charity’s social media accounts. She also sits on the Colmore Business District ‘Hospitality’ working group.

When she’s not working, Jodie is often back in Stoke eating oatcakes (obviously), or socialising with a gin… or two. She also lives and breathes Digbeth, so you’ll often find her roaming the streets taking Insta-worthy pics of her local neighbourhood.

Nicole Gauntlett
Nicole Gauntlett
Account Manager and Head of Events

Nicole is EV.’s Account Manager and Head of Events, priding herself on her passion for developing relationships, producing memorable events and creating campaigns that leave a lasting impression.

Dedicated and ambitious, Nicole works hard to deliver lifestyle PR campaigns that ‘pack a punch’ and strives to bring fresh ideas to the table. Nicole is extremely focused on achieving success for clients; everything from initial brainstorming to day-to-day delivery.

Her greatest achievement however, is giving birth to her very own mini members of #TeamEV, Vivi and Ever. After returning to work at the start of 2019, Nicole found there was a lack of support for mums still looking to grow their careers and develop their skills. Nicole launched Grow Mama; a group providing support and resources for emerging mothers in business.

Nicole is also a coordinator of the Red Box Project Solihull, a charity that supports young women is schools experiencing period poverty.

When she’s not momming or drinking a cold glass of Sauv with the EV. girl gang, Nicole has a passion for interior design and is constantly on Pinterest looking for new ideas for her house renovation.

Lisa Piddington
Lisa Piddington
Copywriter

Joining us a freelance copywriter is award-winning journalist and social media influencer, Lisa Piddington. With more than 30 years industry experience, Lisa has worked on countless regional titles, most notably as Travel Editor, Head of Features and Assistant Editor for the Birmingham Post.

She turned freelance in 2003, building a reputation as a leading lifestyle PR consultant and social media manager working with a number of top luxury brands including Harvey Nichols, Heaven Skincare, the Mailbox and Radisson SAS hotels.

Lisa has developed and taught MBA and BSc Business Communication courses at The University of Birmingham, worked with primary schools as part of the city’s Write On project and has organised career sessions with local schools encouraging pupils to consider writing as a profession. She has also led Instagram training with business looking to boost their social presence, and her own account Lisa Loves Vintage – which focusses on her love for home decor – has more than 65,000 followers.

She writes regularly for lifestyle magazines in the region, including Dluxe, Sixty9, Style Birmingham, Staffordshire Living and Jaime.

Holly Young
Holly Young
Junior Account Exec

Holly joined EAST VILLAGE. after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in English Literature.

She first entered the world of social media marketing and blogging during her final year of study, when began creating content for her personal blog in October 2018 to discuss her music taste, travel diaries and university experiences. As well as this, she also completed several internships in digital media organisations across the West Midlands, including Lightbox Digital.

A self-confessed Instagram addict, Holly loves photography and videography and finding new ways to document her memories online. She is constantly researching the newest cameras, editing apps and trends to experiment with, for both personal and professional use.

Whilst at EV., Holly has continued developing both her lifestyle PR and social media skills; leading on regional and national campaigns for clients. Research is her bag and she loves managing projects from start to finish, so is always dedicated to delivering the best results for clients.

Holly recently returned from working abroad at an American summer camp and when she’s not at work, she’s probably out for brunch with the girls, buying polaroid film, compulsively browsing holiday deals online, or watching Friends endlessly. She also has a self-penned ‘Beauty Bible’, which has been TeamEV’s go to resource for the best skincare tips around!

 

Emma Victoria Stokes
Emma Victoria Stokes
Freelance Digital Marketer

At the start of October 2020, Emma returned from the security of maternity leave and ventured back out into the big scary world as a Freelance Social Media Manager and Copywriter once more. After building a working relationship with Emma over the years, EAST VILLAGE. welcomes Emma to the team to support with the social media.

Having graduated from The University of Sheffield in 2010, Emma went on to build a strong portfolio, working with an impressive client list. She started her own blog in 2013 after leaving university and it wasn’t long before she took the leap and created her own digital marketing business.

Since then, Emma has worked with a wide range of social media and copywriting clients across the UK and not only helps businesses to flourish with their digital marketing strategies, but also supports with written content for blogs and social media. She specialises in lifestyle, hospitality and professional services; and her written work and photography skills coincide nicely with her food and lifestyle blog: emmavictoriastokes.com.

In her spare time, Emma likes to create boards on Pinterest, drink buckets of peppermint tea and float like a mermaid in the bath. Most importantly, she’s a dedicated mum to baby Sebastian (who has just as much of an appetite as she does) and, when time allows, she likes to sit back on the sofa with a glass of red wine and watch terrible horror films.

A few things that might surprise you about Emma: she is left-handed, a female world champion in Tae Kwon Do, has an extremely long tongue that can touch her nose, and even has her own page on IMDB after appearing as an extra in a British zombie film.

Bambus
Bambus
CEO (Chief Excitement Officer)

Bambus joined TeamEV in January, after stealing the hearts of our MD and her fiancé.

He moved up from Bristol to Brum (like his fellow TeamEVer, Hattie) at the start of 2019, and has been a local celebrity ever since… taking pictures with fans on his daily walks, and enjoy puppichinos from his friends at Starbucks on Colmore Row on the regular.

Full of fun and incredible at cuddles, Bambus is dedicated to increasing the profile of the chows.

He’s also prolific on social media and you can catch regular pupdates on his @olly_and_bambus account. What’s more, you can see the adventures of him and his sister on @colmorechows, as they enjoy life in Colmore BID.

You can also catch him on the TeamEV TikTok, where he currently has over 200,000 views!

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