In 2013, sisters Roderica and Francina James started renovations on a mansion built in 1870, and transformed it into The Cochrane House, a luxury bed and breakfast located in the heart of Detroit’s entertainment district. Since opening in May 2018, The Cochrane House has attracted guests from Detroit, Atlanta, Romania, Argentina, and more. Designed with modern sophistication in mind, the duo aimed to contribute to growth in Detroit, while giving back to their community. With a 501(c)(3) connected to the bed & breakfast, the James sisters host small events, concerts, and listening parties to raise money for education and development for youth, and all the proceeds go to the non-profit.
While many people expect a home away from home vibe when booking a bed and breakfast, these owners want to make it clear—The Cochrane House is far from traditional. BLACK ENTERPRISE caught up with the James sisters to learn more about their wow factor.
Execution Meets Excellence
BLACK ENTERPRISE: Tell us about the series of events that inspired you to launch The Cochrane House.
Roderica James: I saw there was a lack of black-owned bed and breakfasts across the country. When I bought the location the only major stadiums that were around were Ford Field and Tiger Stadium. I thought it would be a great idea to open a bed and breakfast in the area. With all of the stadiums around, we not only attract those who need lodging, but it’s also a great location for those who like to travel for sporting events. With the development of Detroit, there is more interest with people who are visiting the city and locals who want a staycation and/or night on the town.
BE: Since opening in May 2018, you’ve had guests from around the world. Describe your target audience. What makes your bed and breakfast unique?
Francina James: The whole approach to our bed & breakfast is we want people to feel at home with style and sophistication. We can curate an experience to our guest taste. So whether you want to have a girlfriends’ pajama party or a weekend romantic getaway, we try to accommodate our guest wishes. Our target audience are free-spirited adults and picky millennials — so we also have amenities that we know millennials will enjoy. Many of our guests don’t like to stick to tradition. We have people who travel for concerts; one of our guests who was in his 50’s came in from Argentina. He was here in Detroit, for the first time for the Beyoncé and Jay Z concert.
We also know and understand that millennials are more hands off; we give our guests the amenities and offerings that remind them of home, but we don’t smother. We are very welcoming when guests walk in; it is like they’re visiting family that they love, but we also know that our space brings fun, peace, and a wonderful and memorable atmosphere. We want our guests to take it all in and have a great Detroit experience. We also host private parties and brunches for corporations and non-profits
Roderica James: Unlike your traditional bed and breakfast, our décor is a relaxed and modern design. We give an option to serve a made-to-order, customized breakfast that can be brought to your bedside, or to eat in the dining area. Guests also have the option to text us their request. There are also wireless speakers in the rooms and throughout the house, so guests can listen to music that they love.
BE: Right now, Detroit is in a season of revitalization. How are you working to expand the city’s growth?
Roderica James: Through our non-profit, we look to have programs for youth development that will give supplies and resources that our youth need and broaden the scope by creating entrepreneur classes for young adults. I would like to see the youth in our area be able to contribute to the growth of Detroit. Many young people move out of the city once they graduate school or get settled in their profession. I want to see the youth be able to stay, if they choose, and be able to contribute to the advancement of the city. I would also like to see more Detroiters and young people purchase, develop, and invest in property as well as give back to the city. As a native Detroiter, I feel proud to be able to be an entrepreneur in the place that I call home.