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Meet Kristina Thayer of Candelaria in Art District on Santa Fe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Thayer.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I get asked this question A LOT in my store and I still have yet to figure out how to easily answer it as my story is not obvious or linear. My formal education is in History so it goes without saying that I’m very multidisciplinary in my approach to business. My resume and work experience vary widely having dipped my fingers in non-profit work, and other odd jobs before realizing that retail is where I consistency excelled. Postgrad school, I told myself I would temporarily work in retail while still working to land a career in my preferred vocation, historical preservation.

After a few years, I realized utilizing my degree was most likely not a reality and so I looked to the jobs I had that I enjoyed and the ones that taught me the most valuable lessons & assets. Their common denominator was a beautiful mix of leadership, entrepreneurship, and curation. My retail background ended as a personal shopper at Bloomingdale’s on Michigan Ave in Chicago and that’s where I truly harnessed my unknown passion to curate collections. Somewhere in the middle of moonlighting as retail management, antique appraising, & non-profit work, I had formulated a unique blend of entrepreneurial energy under the guise of structured and corporate training. I jumped on the subscription box trend early in 2012 where I founded Flicker Box: a subscription box for artisanal candles. Having managed a candle shop in my college days, it was an industry that I was fascinated with, had connections to, and knew quite a bit about. I scouted and vetted (mostly) female owned, small batch, chandlers who were taking the candle game to new heights by using alternative waxes like soy and beeswax. Years in has become the authority on candles, I decided to launch my own brand, Candelaria Candles. From there, I used my method of curation to open a brick and mortar in 2017 to feature all the amazing independent makers I had discovered a long way – and expanded from candles to plants and other housewares. And so the store’s motto was born ‘incubating independent makers, one candle at a time.’

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I am fortunate enough to have a lot of confidence in myself and my vision. And so for me, failure was never (and still isn’t!) an option.

I think finances are always the trickiest part of entrepreneurship but I had specific goals and convictions regarding the rate to which I grew and where my money would come from. I started my first business, Flicker Box with just $200. I operated out of my spare bedroom and living room for well over a year before affording a studio in Chicago. And even when I would spend most of my time daydreaming about opening my Candelaria brick and mortar, I had to wait until things were perfect before taking the big leap.

In terms of creativity, once again, when I launched Candelaria Candles, I had to be patient and create a product that I truly believed in. And that meant six months of trial and error until I held up a candle and knew “okay, this is good enough to sell.” I wouldn’t necessarily describe patience as a roadblock but is a struggle. I found my patience in business to be a valuable tool and used it as the inspiration behind the packing and naming of my candles. Candelaria is really a nod to the natural pace of nature.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please tell us about Candelaria.
Candelaria is a lifestyle boutique & working studio. I pride myself in sourcing not just trendy pieces, but pieces that are affordable and are made by US artisans, most of which are female owned and operated. From plants to greeting cards, candles, books, blankets and pillows, and artwork. I’m definitely known for the beauty of my store and displays I create. I’m crazy fortunate to be housed in a space on Santa Fe with soaring ceilings and beautiful skylights, huge windows, & tons of natural light. My store is the place to be on the weekend and especially on a First Friday Art Walk.

It’s a space that sets out to provide equal parts education and inspiration. We make all of our candles in-house, right in the front of the store. And all the displays I put together, are easily achievable in your home. I love how often things in my store are photographed for at-home inspiration! And above all else, we offer tons of classes! I personally teach candlemaking classes every weekend and for private events and have expanded to teaching fluid art classes as well as other DIY classes. I also host classes for other people to teach; whether that be terrariums, wreath making, fairy gardens, kokedama, macrame or dream watchers.

I try to create an inviting space that has something for everyone, doesn’t break the bank, and also supports local artisans. Each one of those elements is important to me and to the future existence of Candelaria.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Gosh, I’m not sure, I would have done anything differently. I never want to have regrets in my life and I do really just love the journey.


  • Candlemaking Classes 2 hours $35pp
  • Scented Soy Wax Gold Tin $12
  • Scented Soy Wax Black Tumbler $28

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