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Downtown Winters welcomes two new members into its family of businesses: the Eight Six Zero Salon and Jester Photography. With the town now bound for a boost in cosmetic and photographic beauty, these business owners reflect on the career paths that led them to opening businesses in Winters.

Hailing from just down the road in Dixon, Payten Silva — like other ambitious youth growing up in a small town — swore to herself she’d never work there or live in a small town. So, she moved and worked in Sacramento and Roseville. On top of that, she had no intentions of opening her own salon. Life, however, had other plans in mind for this young business owner.

“COVID was a really big deal and what propelled me to opening here. When I finally figured out how important being closer to family was to me, I knew I was ready,” Silva said, explaining her inspiration. “Salons are known for being dramatic, but every spot I’ve worked at, my bosses created beautiful cultures to support each other. I figured this needs to happen where I’m from and wanted a salon that feels like home where people can relax and talk.”

Silva’s aspiration wouldn’t remain a dream for long, however. As she was eating dinner at the Buckhorn Steakhouse one night, she saw the open space at 2 Abby St., made connections through her cousin and before she knew it, the spot was hers.

“Eight Six Zero was the house number I grew up in and wanted to pay tribute to my family,” Silva said explaining her salon’s namesake. “I asked my parents if I could practice on friends and family at the house, so I did in the garage, bathroom and kitchen. I didn’t want it to be my name either, but something professional that’d grow with my career.”

However, Silva’s salon isn’t the only new business in town: Mandy Jester of Mandy Jester Photography is also open for candid creativity.

Before her husband was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Jester established herself as the go-to-gal for photoshoots amongst friends and strangers in Pascagoula, Miss. Once they moved to Winters in July, this full-time mom knew she wanted to open her own space for photography.

“One day, Carla from Steady Eddy’s posted in a Winters Facebook group that they wanted to fill extra space downtown. So, I contacted her, and she connected me with Lacy from the Farmer’s Closet and I took their old storage space,” Jester said. “My goal coming here was to have a space of my own, and it’s nice having a spot at 13 Main St. It feels like it legitimized the business and I love my space. It’s exactly what I needed.”

Far from being “just another photographer,” Jester’s freezes emotions and captures memories in the making with her unique aesthetic.

“A big staple of my work is more lifestyle, connections, togetherness and happiness. I’m not aiming to get your kid smiling at the camera, more the connection with the family,” Jester said talking about her artistic medium. “We get newborns in the studio 12 days or younger and I’m capturing moments of authenticity, something natural and creating memories you can take with you the rest of your life.”

Beyond the camera, Jester puts clients at ease with her friendly personality and — more often than not — receives feedback on how fun her clients had at her sessions.

Although they’re not Winters natives, the town’s embraced Jester and Silva with open arms. Both are, of course, as excited to give back to the town and add to the charm that makes Winters so special.

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