Ever since she was a young girl, Gabriela Bucio has enjoyed the idea of driving customers to a business. She remembers helping her uncle, who was a club promoter in the U.S. and Mexico, design flyers for concerts and hangs them up at local meat markets to let people know about upcoming events.
“This was way before Instagram and TikTok,” Bucio, 36, said. “We were doing it old-school and taping flyers everywhere. I learned about business and how to market like that.”
Born in Michoacán, Mexico, and raised in McAllen, Texas, Bucio started her career as a legal assistant at a law firm in Austin and would supplement her income by working as a bartender, so she could have extra money to attend music shows around the city. During that time, Bucio was convinced that her and her brothers could manage their own restaurant.
“While working as a bartender, you learn all the aspects of how a restaurant works–from the back of the house to the front,” she said. “It was just natural to start our own business.”
Today, Bucio is the owner of Gabriela’s Group, an umbrella company that includes three Mexican restaurants named Gabriela’s–two in Austin and one coming soon to Houston; another pair of pink-colored Mexican restaurants branded as Taquero Mucho; Seareinas, a seafood restaurant; Revival, a coffee shop; Mala Vida, a reggaeton and Mexican regional music venue; Mala Santa, a dance club; and a construction company called Horchata. Thankfully, with a reliable wireless network (“All my business phones are Cricket”) and a sturdy support system as her family, Bucio is able to stay on top of it all.
If owning 10 businesses wasn’t enough, Bucio also has her side hustle–DJing under the name DJ Gabby Got It. It’s something she’s also passionate about and takes her back to the time when she would help her uncle promote his clubs when she was a kid.
“I can talk about music and listen to music all day,” Bucio said. “When I’d go to shows, I would buy the vinyl they were selling and come home and play them on my turntable. Then, I started to mix. It came natural to me. It’s something that I like to do to unwind.”
Gabriela Bucio’s method to make her personal brand of “Sideconomics” work for her as a jefa is simple: Create a vision, put your foot on the gas and, most importantly, have fun doing what you love. Here are five ways that she’s managed to keep herself balanced while moving forward with her assortment of businesses and her second career as a DJ.
1. Take Initiative & Learn the Business
Bucio said she’s always wanted to be her own boss and implement her own ideas for her businesses. So, instead of just talking about how much better she could run a restaurant, she did it. “The first step is doing something about it,” Bucio said. “If you want to own a restaurant but you’ve never worked at one before, go get a job at a restaurant and learn the business.” When she worked as a bartender at a restaurant, Bucio didn’t just stay behind the bar mixing drinks.
She learned how to be a server and how to manage other employees. “I learned every single position in the restaurant,” she said. “I can even bus your table if I have to.”
2. Stay Connected
Bucio admits that she’s on the phone “24/7.” She has to be. And it’s not just one phone. Bucio has several devices to keep her informed about what’s happening at all her businesses. She has an open line of communication with all her staff and likes to handle questions from people who visit her businesses on platforms like Instagram. “I’m always on the go, so I’m always on my cell phone,” Bucio said. “I like that we can reply to people in real-time. All my business phones are Cricket. I think we have 10 of them just for the nightclubs.” Cricket’s value also helps Bucio stay within the budgets she’s allocated across her businesses.
3. Build Your Own Future
When she opened her first restaurant, Bucio didn’t have much to put into it. She said her landlord gave her some used furniture to help. The most challenging part of starting her own business, Bucio said, was having little capital. She didn’t come from “generational wealth” and wasn’t able to get loans like most business owners to do when trying to get off the ground. “I started with nothing,” Bucio said. “But I’m a go-getter. That’s how I get things done.”
4. Outreach to the Masses
While she likes taking the lead on many aspects of her business, Bucio knows she can’t do it alone. So, she’s built a small army that can help her with all the social media outreach they do for her businesses. Bucio considers social media, branding, and marketing her forte when it comes to her work. She also has an eye for talent and has formed a social media team that can reach a broad audience. “You have to keep up with the trends,” she said. “You have to keep learning about all the new apps and what people like and don’t like, and what works and doesn’t work.”
5. Keep Your Business & Side Hustle Separate
With 10 businesses and a DJ side hustle, Bucio keeps busy. So, she has some help when it comes to keeping track of all her finances. Her accountant does all the heavy lifting. Bucio decided to keep Gabriela’s Group separate from her gigs as DJ Gabby Got It. “I just thought it’d be much easier for me to manage my DJ business separate from all of my other businesses,” Bucio said. “I like to get paid as a DJ and not have a check written out to Gabriela.” It’s also good for tax purposes. “It helps to see how much money you’re making and to see where you can invest,” she said. “Business owners should hire an accountant once they are able to, or at least go speak to one. A lot of them offer free consultations.”