In the picturesque town of Dripping Springs, Texas, a legacy franchise of Wild Birds Unlimited finds its heart in the hands of a vibrant and dedicated couple: Amanda and Hector Bustillos. Their story is not just about entrepreneurship, but also of love, family, community, and a shared passion for nature.
Amanda, a native of the Texas Hill Country town of Dripping Springs, and Hector, originally from the west Texas town of Midland, first crossed paths at Texas State University. The magnetic pull of their shared Hispanic heritage brought them together within the confines of a Hispanic organization at the university. While Hector delved into international relations and Amanda pursued mass communication, their academic choices only hinted at the broader canvas of shared interests they’d discover. One such shared interest, nature, specifically bird watching, would ultimately play a pivotal role in their future.
Entrepreneurship Takes Flight
“My parents always wanted a family business,” said Amanda. “My parents were working other full-time jobs, my dad as a police officer and my mom as a pharmacist, but they wanted to retire and start a business they could grow and pass down. That’s how this all began.”
At the time, Amanda’s career steered her in the direction of media and marketing, while Hector utilized his knowledge to become a dual language elementary school teacher, aiding Spanish-speaking students in their educational journey.
When Amanda was expecting their first child, daughter Camila, who is now 7 years old, “My parents approached me with an opportunity that felt right at home. Having grown up visiting the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Austin, the idea of opening a franchise in Dripping Springs resonated deeply with me. I envisioned it as a perfect blend of business, family, and our shared love for bird watching.”
True to their collaborative spirit, a few years into the venture, Amanda and her parents recognized the need for another full-time employee to support the growing business. “There was no one better for the job than Hector,” Amanda said. “It’s amazing how each of us brought a different skill to the table in this business — and we all work really well together.” Amanda emphasizes how seamless the integration has been of their professional and personal lives.
“This is the definition of a family business,” said Amanda. “Our customers are people I’ve known in my community my whole life. Now they come in the store and chat and ask about how our children are doing. This is truly a special thing, and we recognize that.”
A significant factor in their success as franchise owners has been the overwhelming support from the community for their family and their shop. “We’re in an area that deeply values the environment,” Hector said. “The community has a genuine appreciation for nature and wildlife, and we’ve played a pivotal role in catering to those interests.”
The Bustillos’ commitment to their business was further underscored during the onset of the pandemic. Just as they welcomed their now 3-year old son, Joaquin, into the world, they faced unprecedented challenges that tested the mettle of many small businesses globally.
“We had opened our e-commerce site, myWBU, prior to the pandemic, and we’re glad we did,” said Amanda. “It helped keep us in business during the shut-downs, along with curbside service and delivery.”
The couple’s resilience and dedication took flight. Not only did they navigate the turbulent waters of the pandemic with grace, but they also garnered significant accolades. “It was a year of trials, but also of immense growth,” Hector said. “We were recognized as Business of the Year by the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce — that was a testament to our hard work and the unwavering support of our community.”
This October marks a significant milestone for the couple: their sixth anniversary with Wild Birds Unlimited of Dripping Springs. The occasion is made even more special as they officially transition from managing the store to owning it, purchasing the business from Amanda’s parents.
“This is a great opportunity to inherent a strong solid business and grow it,” said Hector. “We align with the principles of Wild Birds Unlimited, which is bringing people and nature together. We want to promote conservationism and let people know how vital it is to embrace taking care of wildlife and birds in particular. We want more people to know our message.”
The couple’s journey with Wild Birds Unlimited is a testament to the power of passion combined with hard work. Their story combines familial bonds, entrepreneurial spirit, and a deep-rooted love for nature. They’re not only accomplished franchise owners, but they also embody the pride of the Latino community, reflecting the diverse opportunities within American entrepreneurship.
“I grew up surrounded by wildlife on my grandparents farm in Mexico,” said Hector. “This business helps me feel like I’m returning to my roots because I have such a deep-seated appreciation of nature. I feel like we’re in the position to share this with the Latino community and the underserved who may not have otherwise been exposed to nature.”
As a family, the Bustillos walk the walk. They regularly volunteer to pick up trash on area roadways, they support local parks and are on the front lines of local conservation efforts. Along with biologists and local birding clubs, the Bustillos spearheaded Dripping Springs becoming an official certified bird city, through Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“Owning this Wild Birds Unlimited franchise is more than just a business venture for us,” said Amanda. “It’s a legacy, a passion, and a commitment to our community. We are proud Latinos, and even prouder to carry forward this legacy.”