Can a house play matchmaker? For Mathew Gerson and Colleen Baxter, the answer is a resounding yes.
When Mathew Gerson first visited what is now his home in Topanga Canyon, California, he had no idea he'd someday live there. He'd arrived as a guest to a "big Topanga hoe-down," he recalls, replete with a bluegrass band, neighborhood regulars, and a bunch horses, goats, pigs and chickens. "During the party, I sat on the floor of the bedroom," he says, "and I had a vision that I was going to have a baby in this house. I don't know why," he adds. "I don't usually have those kinds of experiences."
Flash-forward to two years later: Gerson was making Foria—his celebrated line of cannabis oil vaginal lubricant—out of his kitchen in Venice, but felt a need to get back to nature. When a friend said she knew of a house in Topanga that was for sale, he decided to check it out—and discovered it was the same house.
That's when Colleen Baxter entered the picture. She heard through mutual friends that Gerson was looking for a roommate. "So I went to see the place and I felt so at home," she says. "Then I met Mathew, and I had this really strong sense that he was going to be my husband. That was really strange." She moved in, despite some friends' concerns. "They did point out that my new roommate would be this middle-aged guy with a cannabis sex lube product living at the end of a dirt road," she says with a laugh.
A few months later, they were dating; now they're engaged. Gerson says their home is now an integral part of who they are independently and as a couple: "It's a character in our life story. It brings us together so we can grow our relationship."
"[The house] is a character in our life story. It brings us together so we can grow our relationship." - Gerson
Gerson's original product, which uses pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oil for sexual enhancement, has earned a cult-like following and high praise in the media. GQ named it the "sex product of the year"; the San Francisco Chronicle called it "a game changer"; and Cosmopolitan says the products deserve "four deeply bowing emojis." He's currently expanding into additional wellness categories, formulating new products made from CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that's legal for sale in all states and abroad. Baxter, meanwhile, is an functional medicine health coach who runs her company, Vessel and Soul, out of the house.
The home functions as a creative space for both their companies: Gerson grows cannabis there and Baxter hosts classes for women who want to learn to ferment their own foods. But it's also a place to unwind. Gerson has lived in cabins, yurts, and even a cave in Colorado for a year. He says he gets anxious when he's inside for an extended period of time, and the open windows throughout the home provide a perfect compromise. The couple work at the outside tables on the property, and often sleep in the Lotus Belle tent they erected in their yard.
That the home's scale is small — under 1200 square feet — suits them just fine. It was originally built in the '80s by a couple who, having sailed from France to L.A., wanted the house to have a boat-like feel. The result is a space where everything is within arm's reach. Meanwhile, the property sits on the border of Red Rock State Park, so the couple often sees coyotes, deer and ravens on the property. The glass jars in the kitchen, meanwhile, are more than an aesthetic choice — mice are uninvited, but frequent, guests.
Having found true love through cohabitation, Gerson and Baxter often urge their single friends to give it a try. "We say, 'Don't date — move in together and see if it works out,'" says Gerson. "Home is a place where you can unpack the deeper parts of yourself and let it hang around like dirty laundry. That can help you discover the person you fall in love with." However, he adds with a laugh, "So far, nobody's taken us up on our advice."
Thanks, Mathew and Colleen!