Sisters Roderica and Francina James transformed an 18th-century mansion into The Cochrane House, a luxury historic boutique bed & breakfast located in Detroit’s historic Brush Park neighborhood. From chic and cultured art pieces, and modern furniture to an evening Wine & Cheese Hour, The Cochrane House is changing the conversation about access to a high living experience in the heart of Detroit.
Beyond providing five-star guest services, the founders have also welcomed in-house live music events as well as opportunities to give back to their community. Since opening in May 2018, both sisters recall their proudest moments were talking to and inspiring youth of color about entrepreneurship.
“We’ve had opportunities to share our story of triumphs and obstacles to youth who look just like us. It’s a connection that we hope will encourage the youth, and reassure them that, if we can do it, so can you,” Roderica said.
While Roderica and Francina are experiencing growth and opportunities at the forefront, behind the scenes they’re sisters who must juggle family and business matters.
Mixing family with business can be a blessing and a curse.
For family members who are growing a business, it can be rewarding. However, running a family business daily comes with its own set of risks. On the one hand, you’re building a legacy and setting a foundation of generational wealth. On the other hand, not being able to separate family and work issues, or resolve differences peacefully — can kill even the most innovative company.
AfroTech: So, what happens when the needs of the company outgrow the capabilities of a family member? What if someone doesn’t agree with the direction of the company?
Roderica: Disagreements and differences will pop-up among family members while running a business. It’s inevitable. The best advice we can give is it’s not necessary to fight every battle to win the war.
Yes, it’s a cliché, but sometimes it’s not worth fighting over small aspects of the business if the contribution is for the betterment of the business.
AfroTech: In addition to being aware of the unresolved questions and conflicts which can impact day-to-day operations, an equal amount of dedication and passion for success must exist.
Roderica and Francina: When all family members are excited to see the business thrive, you are more likely to work extra hard and sacrifice your own “wants” to see it become successful.
When you have someone on your team, who’s not equally passionate about what you are doing, that person’s productivity does not contribute to the overall success of your business. At the end of the day, when working together as a family, you should want to see everybody win.
While setting clear expectations are key for any business, for families, it’s even more important because your lives are forever emotionally and physically connected.