Baton Rouge, Louisiana is a city that historically has been ranked as having “one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “out of every 100,000 Black adults, only 380 become business owners.” Dreka Gates is one of those business owners. She was born and raised in Baton Rouge and always knew she would be successful.
Gates is a determined and ambitious strategist. She didn’t cave when things didn’t work as planned or when her support system faded. Instead, Gates turned her disappointment into passion and used that passion as fuel.
She became a boss: owner of multiple businesses, social media influencer, model, YouTuber, and gardener. Instead of giving up, she started building empires.
In less than two decades, Gates has built an impressive business portfolio. She is the co-founder and co-owner of the Bread Winners’ Association music label, which manages several musical artists.
She’s released EPs, albums, and mixtapes, and has taken performers from $250 shows to platinum-selling records. Gates is also a social media sensation.
Though she didn’t initially love the idea of social media, her rise to fame came fast with an engaged following of over three million.
Gates continued to follow her passion and became a cannabis business owner. She joined the team of owners and partners of BE Provisions, a start-up cannabis cultivation and dispensary brand located in Cassopolis, and launched Jungle Love (cannabis/marijuana), and Jungle Healing (CBD and Delta 8) in 2021.
Later that year, she launched DREKA, a whole-body wellness company offering bath, skin, overall wellness, and hair products. The Gates family also owns and operates a 40+ acre blueberry farm in Mississippi.
I visited BE Provisions in 2022 to tour the dispensary and cultivation facility in Cassopolis, Michigan. Gates and BE’s director of cultivation guided my tour to help me discover more about the business and the team.
Gates has witnessed cannabis heal loved ones and the plant is a part of her total body wellness routine. She also believes nature is the ultimate medicine. A year after the official opening of BE, I interviewed Gates and the team full of nerves. I left feeling empowered by the company’s motto: BE Bold, BE Free, BE You.
A year after our first meeting, Gates and I caught up to discuss her career before cannabis, what a day in her life looks like, what’s happening with BE, and more.
Cannabis & Tech Today: What was your life and career like before becoming a cannabis business owner?
Dreka Gates: Before getting into the cannabis industry, I worked in the music industry for 15 years, developing and managing multi-platinum-selling artist Kevin Gates. Together we launched the Bread Winners’ Association music label, signing artists like OG Boobie Black and Yung Mazi.
I also launched my whole body wellness company, DREKA.
I’m a creator and a builder at heart and at my core, so building things, especially businesses, is something that I absolutely love and do very well.
C&T Today: Why did you decide to enter the cannabis industry?
DG: I am a lover of all things dealing with nature. There’s no greater healing than the power of healing that comes from plants, cannabis included. I have witnessed its magic with loved ones and have seen someone who has never smoked use cannabis to get off of antidepressants and painkillers for chronic pain.
There’s just so much taboo surrounding cannabis and for all of the wrong reasons. I’m here to change that! You can’t overdose/die from cannabis use alone. The same thing can’t be said about prescriptions.
Cannabis is a safer, healthier alternative, even for those of us who deal with anxiety, and insomnia, or who just need to take the edge off. We can all do that safely with cannabis. I love cannabis!
C&T Today: I’d love to hear about your journey to co-owner and partner at BE Provisions.
DG: It was beautiful how the partnership began and I don’t believe anything happens by chance. Back in 2017, I took a few courses on all things cannabis, learning from seed to sale. I was fascinated and decided that one day I was going to get into the business.
I was contacted by BE and after our first meeting, I knew that it was “meant to BE.” We all had the same work ethic, goal, and style of building a business, and also shared the passion to build a business that would continue to grow and benefit future generations.
We love cannabis and we know it can save lives and create jobs for many people. This interview is helping me see the impact that we’re having on the communities we’re in and those that we plan to expand to in the future. We’re legitimately developing communities, it’s amazing!
C&T Today: What does a day in the life of Dreka Gates look like?
DG: My days can be different from day to day; it all depends on what I have going on. My home base is in Mississippi, but I still travel a lot. I spend almost half of the month traveling. My goal is to wake up before everyone else does so that I’m able to work out and have time for myself to meditate and power myself up for the day.
Once 9 a.m. hits, I start addressing several emails, calls, and texts that all require time and energy. This lasts all day but in between that time, I go outside and play around in my garden and with my animals on the farm. That really helps me stay grounded and keeps my creative energy flowing; it makes me happy!
The kids are homeschooled on the farm so I see them periodically throughout the day. I also have to create content so I’ll do that as well.
BE is in Michigan, so I’m not there every day but I do take frequent trips, get regular updates on harvests and new strains, and we have virtual meetings when I’m not there. We’re constantly growing (no pun intended) so coming up with new ideas is a daily thing.
C&T Today: Are there any changes, products, or collaborations coming later this year or in 2024?
DG: We have so many amazing things coming up for BE. We just opened our new location in Crystal, Michigan, and will be opening several new locations within the state of Michigan, including Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Hastings, and Niles once the township votes there.
We also have a special product collaboration with someone very special coming up. I am also opening a dispensary in the state of Mississippi, so stay tuned!
This article first appeared in Volume 5 Issue 2 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here. All images courtesy of Dreka Gates.