Rebekah Kay Ciano and Nate Butcher were just kids – 6 and 4 – when their parents moved the family from a town in Maryland to rural New Hampshire.
Ciano, now 42, remembers moving in the middle of a blizzard, the blinding snow something she had never seen before.
Her brother, 37 today, was too young to remember that detail now but can easily describe the quaint side of Windham as a child, a distant memory in many ways.
The sibling entrepreneurs now spend their days in side-by-side spots on bustling Route 111.
Ciano’s business, Rebekah Kay Photography, has been open for nine years and is the only such studio within the city limits.
Butcher opened his popular restaurant, 33 Hilltop, with his brother-in-law — Ciano’s husband and high school girlfriend, Kyle — seven years ago.
Growing up, there wasn’t much where their established businesses were, although the two do poke fun at one of their favorite places in their hometown – Indian Rock Video.
“We had that,” Butcher recalled. “We loved going to pick movies.”
For perspective, when the Butcher family moved to town in 1986, there was only one traffic light – hung by what is now Central School.
“It was so different,” Ciano says. “But in many ways, there’s still that small-town feel that made my husband and I want to raise our kids here, too.”
The huge population growth is no secret. The 1980 census reported Windham’s population as 5,664. By 2019, the number had risen to 14,853.
Still, siblings can name dozens of local business owners in the community.
“You drive up and down town, and we really don’t have a lot of channels here,” Ciano says. “And I’m proud that we all support each other and support other groups and organizations through donations and that sort of thing. There’s a lot to give back.
The family first moved to Windham because of dad Wendell Butcher’s work in the hospitality industry. But 10 years later, he parted ways with the biggest hotel chain he worked for to launch his own franchise, setting the example that would shape the lives of his son and daughter.
“I think it’s safe to say that’s where our entrepreneurial sides come from,” says Ciano. “It was our father and our mother who always encouraged us.”
Both Nate and Rebekah followed in familiar footsteps out of college, earning hotel jobs.
She returned to school to study photography, unafraid to pursue a career in the arts with strong family support.
He turned to catering, becoming familiar with everything from front-of-house to marketing.
The brother and sister have already made lasting impressions in the city’s ever-growing landscape.
It took only a few months for 33 Hilltop to be voted one of the “Best of Windham”, the annual awards presented by Windham Magazine. Readers have continued to put it on the list every year since. Pizzas, fresh salads, artisan sandwiches and handmade burgers are customer favorites.
Just a few doors down, Ciano has become widely known for her family portrait sessions that focus on capturing emotions and storytelling moments.
Siblings and their spouses can raise the next generation of entrepreneurs at the same time.
Ciano and Butcher are the parents of five children combined, cousins who are all best friends and close in age – 11, 10, 9, 8 and 5.￼