Her cup of tea
Entrepreneurship and philanthropy are Lisa Liberatore’s cup of tea. Literally. As the founder of Baxter Tea Co. in Gardiner, Maine, Liberatore donates 10 percent of her loose tea sales to aid in the preservation and maintenance of Baxter State Park. Liberatore graduated from the University of Maine with degrees in child development and education in 2003 and 2005, respectively. We asked to reflect on her UMaine memories and her career.
Favorite place on campus? I have so many fond memories of York Hall and the old Memorial Union.
Most memorable UMaine moment? Standing in the freezing cold early in the morning to get a ticket to the UNH hockey game. You’d stand in line and you’d freeze. That’s what you did.
While in Orono, I spent too much time: Sitting in the Oakes Room not studying, but talking. You don’t go to the library to work, you go to socialize.
Favorite professor? Gary Schilmoeller. I took a lot of classes with him. He has so much knowledge to help you on your path, yet he cares about you as a person.
Class that nearly did you in? Geology of Maine.
How did your UMaine experience shape who you are now? It’s done everything. It’s because of UMaine that I am where I am. It gave me the opportunity to have leadership roles on campus.
Best UMaine tradition? The hearty Maine Hello.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have … bought those clip-on things for your feet that keep you from slipping on the ice and snow. I would’ve invested in better winter gear — and cross-country skis to get to class.
Why UMaine? It’s a great school. It’s amazing. I’m from Bangor, so you’d think I would’ve gone home all the time, but there’s no reason to leave campus. There’s so much going on here that I felt like I was 1,000 miles from home.
Why did you choose to become a tea purveyor and how — if at all — does your academic experience help you in your business? After I earned my master’s in college administration, I worked at Husson and the University of New England. But I have all this energy. I’ve got to keep moving and I thought, maybe I’ll start a business. What about tea? That goes back to my time at UMaine, about being open when there’s something going on. UMaine fosters that sense of exploration. I figured, why not try? If it doesn’t work out, I still have my master’s.
Tell us about the time you spent in Baxter State Park growing up. How did that influence your decision to donate a part of your proceeds to nonprofits? I was up at Baxter one day and it was pouring rain, so I sat down in the visitors’ center and picked up a copy of Gov. Percival Baxter’s biography. I read the whole thing, and I decided if I ever start a business, I’m giving back to the state of Maine. It’s about giving back to Maine and keeping money in Maine.
How does UMaine continue to influence your life? I just hired a painter and the thing that sealed the deal is that he’s going to UMaine. Anything for a fellow UMaine person. There’s a great network established that I continue to use to this day. Maine has opened a lot of doors to me and I hope to do that for the next group coming up.
Image Description: Lisa Liberatore