Jesse and Rachel Gunstream are often asked what led them to enter the vast world of franchising. Like many entrepreneurs, the married couple were pursuing other career paths when COVID-19 suddenly struck and paralyzed the nation. 

Jesse, a Marine Corps veteran, held a leadership role in operations management, and Rachel was a paramedic. Leadership in operations management was largely focused on building strong teams that were tight-knit and connected, while patient care involved building trust and rapport with patients and delivering hands-on care. During the pandemic, many of the aspects they loved about their careers were lost.

“Social distancing inhibited operations leaders like Jesse from building real connections with their teams. For me, patient care transformed into rushed, mass triage and much of the work turned into moving patients in and out of intensive care units,” Rachel said. “Through it all, we felt bound to duty, whether we agreed with the quality of performance or not. When things finally started to wind down, we decided it was time to build something of our own.”

The couple fell in love with LIME Painting because the brand was built on a set of values that they align with, while prioritizing real relationships with real people. Jesse and Rachel’s backgrounds include specific skillsets that set them up for success in the world of home improvement. Jesse’s primary focus in operations management was quality control and on-time delivery. Those two components are also the biggest concerns for homeowners when partnering with a home services company. Rachel’s biggest strengths are interpreting and understanding client concerns and her meticulous eye for detail, meaning she can intuitively understand and address concerns that many homeowners wouldn’t pick up on.

Rachel and Jesse, like many others, belong to underrepresented minority groups that aren’t often prioritized or welcomed into the entrepreneurial space. Jesse, who spent seven years in the Marine Corps, has a unique perspective—the idea that many veterans possess a great number of transferrable skills that would allow them to thrive in the business and franchising space. 

“Veterans show up hard-wired to operate within a system or structure.  For that reason, they make great candidates as potential franchisees. The part that is generally missing is the knowledge necessary to own a small business,” Jesse said. “My seven years in the Marine Corps didn’t teach me how to read and understand a P&L or track the revenue impacts of a particular marketing campaign. We had to learn those skills as we grew in experience.”

Rachel, as a woman business owner, emphasized that women seeing other women in leadership breaks the stigma that they must possess infinite knowledge and expertise in order to start a small business.

“It is my experience that women sometimes assume that if they don’t have all the capital, skills or expertise involved, they can’t have a small business. Of course, some relevant experience is necessary, but “relevant” is subjective, and expertise often translates to more than one industry,” Rachel said. “Ironically, many tools do exist to help women succeed in launching new businesses.  There are government contracts ear-marked for women owned businesses as well as networking and referral groups for women owners.  The resources are available to catapult women owners, but guidance on how to tap into them is hard to source.”

Veterans have a strong sense of duty to their communities, one of the driving forces that calls men and women to serve. That commitment doesn’t end once they embark in entrepreneurship and most customers are looking to support businesses that are active in their communities. Furthermore, the Gunstreams’ home community, the Texas Hill Country, is an up-and-coming hub for minority-owned small businesses.

“Closer to home, veteran, minority and women-owned small businesses in Texas significantly influence our state’s economy,” Jesse said. “Most of the highest ranked cities for Hispanic and minority entrepreneurs can be found in the Lone Star State, and Austin, TX is ranked #1 among the top cities for Black entrepreneurship. It’s a great place to be.”

Choosing to own their LIME Painting in The Hill Country was influenced by two main themes: Rachel describes these items as “beautiful landscapes” and “friendly folks.”  

“We knew we wanted to work in an area where we could build relationships with our clients.  We sought out a territory where the residents enjoyed a slower pace of life – separated from the noise that comes with living in a big city,” Rachel said.Our customers are generally retired, and we personally spend time getting to know each one. It’s a privilege to meet so many wonderful people and hear them share their life experiences.  They come from varied backgrounds and have the most incredible stories to share.”

While the Gunstreams are open to owning and operating more LIME franchise locations, for now, the couple is content on growing their Hill Country business and services. With a large territory of approximately 2200 sq miles, the Gunstreams plan to grow their team in order to completely service this area before expanding elsewhere. They cited Santa Fe, Taos and Ruidoso, New Mexico, as places they’d be interested in servicing one day. 

The Hill Country is well known for its views, sprawling homes and uniquely elite clientele. LIME caters to the individual needs of their patrons with the utmost attention to detail and superior artisan-ship, whether restoring or refinishing their property. “Our commitment to excellence starts with LIME’s core values of Love, Integrity, Mission and Excellence, which are incorporated into everything we do,” says Jesse, “those values are integrated at every level from our first contact through the final walk-through, and they’re more than just principals to us. They are the foundation on which LIME is built, and we are proud to add to it.”