We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Hill-Higgs and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jenna, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
After teaching teenagers for 20 years, I got the opportunity to open a neighborhood bar in one of my favorite communities. The building itself has been part of the gay bar scene for years. As a child raised by lesbians, the idea to create a safe space and to continue to have inclusive bar in our area was important to me. But I wanted to do more than just create another local place. When I sat down to write my business plan I discovered that what I truly wanted was to give back and to support my community. You can have a drink anywhere but when you come in to Liberty, I want people to know that they’re having a drink and they’re changing the world. One of the first things I started was when a patron tabbed out, they would also vote for a charity. At the end of the month, whoever had the most votes I would donate part of my paycheck to that charity. It seems like a small thing but every time somebody voted they were looking at three local charities. They ask questions and they feel connected, and some even found places they wanted to get involved with. My desire to give back would lead others to reach out to me and discover new ways to change my community. But I wanted to do more than just donate funds. So I started to look at the things that brought me joy or that I was passionate about and decided to build on those ideas. So I started a monthly book club, drag queen bingo, a running club, Thankful Thursdays, and the Liberty Lowdown, a monthly art show. All of these events are free and they celebrate some of the best parts of our community. Perhaps it’s because I hung out with teenagers for so long but I worry that there are people out there who feel disconnected, alone, or unsupported . So many of the events that I create are to celebrate giving back or supporting our community but more than anything it’s to bring our community together. We need each other. Liberty is more than just selling beer and liquor to me. I want people to know that they’re safe, loved, and heard when they come in. I truly believe we can change the world and we can only do that if we do it together.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think the key word about my journey is challenges. I never thought I would be where I am today. I never thought I had the strength or courage to be an entrepreneur. But I feel more powerful today than I ever have in my entire life. A lot of that courage came because I lost my first husband when he was only 41. I saw my family reform and find its purpose and love after such a horrible loss. And I realized how strong and caring we were. It may sound goofy, but we are much better together. Because of this when I got the opportunity to create something that would allow me to do more for people and support people, I jumped. Little did I know that two weeks after I received keys to the building that a pandemic would hit and shut me down for 6 1/2 months before I even got to open. There was no game plan or checklist that I could find to help me open a bar post Covid but we figured out how to do it together. Between Ryan and myself, my awesome staff, and my amazing patrons we figured out how to have a safe and enjoyable bar during this ridiculous time. So now I see challenges as an opportunity to jump in and figure out how to do what’s best for us.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well of course I’m going to have to make sure that everybody checks out everything in the Near Southside community. We are so lucky with the shops, restaurants, bars, and so much more right here in a 2 mile radius. Some of my favorite places to visit are the Bearded Lady for an amazing grilled cheese sandwich, Amphibian Theatre and Stage West for a great live theatre, Morgan Mercantile to grab some awesome new threads, and of course I want to check out Main at Southside or MASS, an amazing live music venue just around the corner from Liberty.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, Ryan, is the best partner I could ask for. He has been a bar owner for more than 30 years, so he brings an experience and knowledge that is incredible. But he also loves and supports my dreams and my passions. Even with the unconventional ideas or events I come up with, he is right by my side supporting everything that I envision. I also have to recognize that I could not do any of this without the support of my family. Having my two moms loving and supporting me as I go off on a whole new career path is amazing. Also, my two children are so important because they are the best pieces of me and my late husband. My kids are probably my biggest fans and I am grateful for everything that they give to me. I want the world to be better and kinder because the people I love, the people that love me, the people that support me deserve a better and kinder world. So without them I wouldn’t be able to do this. However it is because of them that I need to do this and make a better world.

Website: Www.libertyloungers.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/libertyloungefw

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