This Weed-Friendly Airbnb Is Redefining What It Means to Make Space
Copper House is not your average bud-and-breakfast.
Like many people on trips to faraway places, Detroit natives Jessica and Jacqara Jackson liked to live like locals as much as possible. Do as the Romans do, and all that. So during their backpacking trip through Europe in 2016, they opted for a private Airbnb in Paris (they’d just gotten engaged in the City of Love, after all), and another private rental in Amsterdam, to better enjoy the local herb in peace. But something felt lacking when they stayed at private rentals.
“When we arrived for our last leg in London, we decided to stay in a hostel for more of a community experience,” recalls Jessica. “It was nice, we were able to get insight from fellow travelers on where the gay clubs were, the best restaurants in the area—but we still weren’t able to feel 100% comfortable being affectionate. We needed a place where we felt safe being ourselves.”
The experience left an impression on the women, because they knew they weren’t alone in these thoughts. They kept thinking about what people like them—Black travelers, queer travelers, cannabis consumers—looked for when they sought out lodging. Then in 2018, Michigan legalized cannabis for adult use, just a few months after they’d become the proud owners of a large, historic house with a spare bedroom. They knew that a huge stick in the spokes of cannabis tourism is the fact you can’t smoke cannabis in a hotel, nor in certain Airbnbs. The Jacksons knew that they wanted to try out a cannabis-friendly bed and breakfast situation immediately.
“We knew there was something there, and we wanted to put our foot in the door of the cannabis industry,” says Jacqara.
They were the first listing for the state of Detroit on the Bud and Breakfast site, and their first guest made their reservation in January 2019. Though the visitor didn’t actually rent the space for the night.
“They were in from Ohio for a job interview, and just wanted a space to relax beforehand—to talk to someone who knew the city well,” recalls Jessica. “They just smoked, chatted, and went on their way.” Little did they know that their first guest’s less conventional approach to their listing was a major hint at what lay ahead for their home.
For the time being, though, things stayed slow. They did a big renovation in the fall of 2019, making a bigger commitment to the concept and remodeling their spare bedroom. Jessica redecorated, featuring her and Jacqara’s vast collection of copper art and cookware, and they coined themselves Copper House.
And then, COVID-19 hit. They made a full stop, and questioned everything.
In February of 2020, however, an unexpected DM interrupted their existential spiral. A local photographer was looking for private space that could be styled for a photoshoot with a couple influencers. They just needed a non-populated, clean, well-appointed space that could be customized to fit their needs for the afternoon. The Jacksons said yes, and immediately started offering this as a package. And just like that, they saw the vast potential of their own space.
“It’s always a surprise to us, because it’s literally our house,” laughs Jessica. “We’re truly a community-activated space. They told us what they needed and how they wanted to use the space. We learned over time what worked best for them, and we’ve got big plans for more.”
They outfitted the backyard to host micro-weddings over last summer, and cannabis companies would rent the space for a catered, COVID-safe team meeting outside. They started offering up their space to different community groups, hosting a backyard banquet for Black entrepreneurs in cannabis, and Queer Expressions—an event with eight paid queer art curators and infused gourmet bites from chef Enid Parham. Not every single neighbor is wild about their success, but others were even inspired to begin their own journeys in the industry. Overall, it’s clear the community had a need for a place like Copper House.
“It’s mind-blowing,” says Jacqara. “Like, this is our home, and people are actually having a really great time? It’s humbling too, to know we are doing something good by hosting events where people can connect and network and have a positive experience.”
Jessica has become more active in the burgeoning Detroit cannabis community, joining in advocacy efforts, networking with other female entrepreneurs in the scene, served on a group for Detroit’s social equity board, and doing some freelance marketing for brands, while Jacqara works at medical cultivation facility Sozo. You can still rent their Airbnb listing per night, per usual, but their calendar is much busier these days.
Although this wasn’t the role they initially envisioned Copper House serving, in many ways, it still is. Take their name: Copper represents the metal with healing properties that adorns their home. House refers to something more though, back to NYC ballroom culture and queer spaces of liberated self expression.
“When our space is full of people, and you can feel the magic, it feels serendipitous—so aligned with who we are,” Jessica says. “What we do is something queer folks have always done for one another: made space for each other to feel safe being ourselves. Our space enables us to do meaningful work for communities who are often underserved, as well as center experiences that are rarely given the visibility. It feels inspiring, and it feels like something I don’t want to stop doing.”