by Claire Alexander
Rachel and Matt Neil dreamed of starting their own business for years. They read books about start-ups, listened to podcasts, and Rachel started attending the weekly Cup of Joe meetings in St. Joseph, Mo., a venue for local entrepreneurs organized by local business owners.
“Matt and I are different in many, many ways. He has worked as an aerospace, mechanical, and civil engineer. I have worked as a graphic designer, photographer, videographer, and have volunteered countless hours working on all things visual,” Rachel says. But one thing they shared was a passion for restoration. “We love to work side by side on restoring older homes or creating new spaces. We have brought new life into our own homes, and the hard work is a big part of the ultimate reward.”
In 2020, their search for a business type ended when they purchased the Corner Cottage. After an extensive rehab, the cottage opened its doors in May 2021 as an Airbnb property in St. Joseph, Mo. Now guests can enjoy modern amenities in a classic home with more than 100 years of history.
“My husband was dead set on investing in Real Estate. I wanted to restore, design, market, and provide community support. We could do all of those things with a short-term rental using Airbnb. Matt could use his great woodworking skills on a custom fireplace mantel, coffee bar, and beadboard ceilings.” And Rachel could ply her craft as a professional designer and create a logo, photographs, and videos for online marketing. Not only that, it gave her an opportunity to dive into an interior design project that others would enjoy for years to come.
What does it take to run an Airbnb? Communication is vital, Rachel says. “Great communication is at the beginning and end of managing and hosting a short-term rental. I’m constantly communicating with our cleaners, handymen, handling utility companies, and our guests. What I enjoy the most is communicating with other store owners, shopping local, and staging the home for guests traveling into the area.”
For Rachel, it’s about more than owning a business or a rental; she thrives in a creative environment that allows her to give back to the community she serves.
“While volunteering with downtown Marceline several years ago, I learned a lot about helping small businesses. I also witnessed their love for the people they served. I want to help market small businesses and, in turn, help out our community.”
The Corner Cottage offers an open dining and living room, a modern kitchen, and a loft for the kids (or young at heart). When not soaking up the soothing vibes inside, guests can swing on the front porch along a peaceful street or play in the white picket-fenced backyard.
“My husband and I saw the need for families of five or more to stay together in a nice home. A place where they can all sit together at a large table for meals, enjoy a nice yard, and the kids can escape to a fun area upstairs,” Rachel shares. Of course, visitors are treated to a few perks in the cottage. Because what trip to St. Joseph would be complete without indulging in at least one cherry mash and coffee from Hazel’s, a local shop full of visual flare and flavor (offered in k-cups for easy brewing pleasure)?
If families are interested in a staycation, look no further than the glowing reviews on Airbnb’s website. One goes so far, Rachel explains, as to designate the Corner Cottage as the “Yellow House of Happiness.”