It’s not everyday that you get to do a photo shoot with chickens. ha!
Interviewing Drake the Founder, Owner, and Head Farmer at cluck! was such a pleasure. Have you ever met someone that instantly makes you feel like your ideas matter and that you can make a difference? That is Drake. She is passionate about people, the environment, climate change, and animals. Her love of the planet is palpable and admirable. Not only that but she has transformed her values and ideals into a beautiful store.
Maybe it’s because my grandmother has a goat farm in Venezuela (more on that in another post) but walking into her store feels like home. If you’re in Providence, or Rhode Island, I encourage you to visit cluck! You can say hi to the chickens, or Drake, and experience the joy of an urban farming shop.
Alrighty, ladies and gents, I introduce to you…. Drake
tell us about cluck!
cluck! is New England’s only urban farm supply store-meaning we sell things people need to grow, raise and preserve food-plus we offer classes, workshops, author events and kids’ programs. We see ourselves as a store, but more importantly, as a gathering place and a community resource around self-reliance.
what made you decide to start cluck!?
I felt it was time for a change from what I was doing and initially I was planning to look for another job-ideally less pressure but a better wage and a retirement plan- and then I really ran into some super age and gender bias. When I heard multiple version of: “maybe take some things off your resume, delta one of your degrees,” and my favorite, “try not to appear so competent when you interview” from a headhunter, I knew I was done. You spend your whole life being told you should work harder, be better and then suddenly you are supposed to be less? Would this be said to a man? I was complaining to my dad about this and he said, “I’ve always seen you in the business world.” I asked why (my professional experience was almost solely non-profit). And he said, “Because you know how to take nothing and make it into something-always have-and the business world needs that.” My dad hoped I would get a nice corporate job-but I heard something different. I went home that night, poured myself a glass of wine and thought about what that meant to me. Not too long after, the idea for cluck! was born (and then the real work started).
what would you say is your big vision for cluck!?
People finding joy in taking control of their food. And people finding community around that.
tell us about how you came up with the name cluck!?
I love it! It was the first name I thought of. A lot of people tried to talk me out of it. I am so glad I stuck to it. It makes people smile (which is why I kept it).
when did your passion for farming start?
I think my interest in the kind of knowledge and satisfaction that comes with growing and raising food has been around for a while, but mostly as an observer and a student. Meanwhile, I took a very different path based on my educational training and all the things that happen in life that take you on a certain path. I have a few friends who would say I have a long dating history of ‘almost-becoming-a-farmer’ (and there is some truth in that!) but somehow it never happened. Then one day I was in a different place, first personally and now, professionally.
how would you describe your fashion style?
Nonexistent! Fashion used to matter to me a lot (I could tell you just who was producing what and I used to put a lot of time into trying to mimic looks I liked by shopping vintage)-but I find that I have a lot of other things that are much more important to me now. These days, my style is a choice between Bogs (boots) or clogs. If I could find an affordable man-tailored white shirt, I’d buy 6 or them and wear them everyday with a great pair of jeans. I have a lot of respect for a uniform.
what inspires you?
People who ask what they can do to make the world better – and act on that.
if you had to choose one person in your whole life that has inspired you, who would that be and why?
I could not answer that-the list is too long (and getting longer)-and some days, I am inspired by strangers whose names I will never know.
if you could drop everything and do ONE thing, what would you do and why?
In pursuing my own dream, I have kind of done that already… but if I could do one thing today, this minute, I would get on a plane and travel with my guys- I really want my stepson to see a lot of the world- it was the greatest gift to me as a child and I know it shaped me greatly to be in the countries of others’.
where are you from and where do you live now?
So, I am from a lot of places. I was raised a bit gypsy-like. I was born in the United States, but left at the age of six. My family lived in Jamaica, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We spent a lot of time in Denmark (where my mom was born), I was tutored and homeschooled in the former Yugoslavia and went to schools in Germany, England and the U.S. Today, I live in Cranston, R.I. on an old farm.
what made you decide to stay in providence and open cluck here?
Honestly, Providence (and RI) would not be my first choice for my business- it simply isn’t a good decision for someone who wants to grow and prosper with her business. But my stepson keeps my small family here for now so I have had to really embrace the business limitations of the state. Fortunately, I love the community here and because of that, I am interested in-even compelled to-help make our state a better place in any way I might have the skills for.
describe Providence in a few words.
Adolescent, quirky, hopeful.
your business revolves around nature, so I wonder what is your favorite season, why?
Autumn-always. I love the light that comes with that season, the feeling of the first really crisp day when you need to wear a slightly scratchy sweater. There is a very calming clarity to that.
when do you feel the most creative?
When I am learning something new-a skill, a fact, anything-because it makes me ask more questions and that is what fuels me creatively, pushes me, allows me to see a path towards something.
what is one thing you can’t leave your house without?
My dog Bella- she comes with me everywhere.
when do you feel your best?
When my hands are in the dirt (but that started when I was an archaeologist).
what is the best place you’ve ever traveled to?
Venice in the winter-hands down. No cars, weight of the past, perfect balanced light, a slow, appropriate pace and gorgeous language.
“Tutt’ e possibile” (all is possible)
any words of advice you give to our readers wanting to start a business?
Pick something you love, do your research and be super prepared to find out it is a bad idea: you can’t be sentimental about something that has to support you. (I can’t abide sentimentality-it kills opportunity).
you’ve recently won the best of ri!
It feels great-because it is a win for everyone who believed in us and supported our hard-won opening.
what kinds of social media can we follow you on and how can our readers contact you?
// interview + photography by Olivia //