Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sonya Reynoso, Founder of Ye Olde Candle House Gift Shoppe, located in Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I opened Ye Olde Candle House Gift Shoppe in 2015 and am proud to have become a trusted source for made-in-the-USA high-quality candles and all occasion gifts. I cater to women (70%) and men (30%) between 35-60 years of age who still prefer the "in-person" shopping experience in a relaxed atmosphere with old-world charm and excellent customer service. Prior to opening my Candle & Gift Shoppe, I had obtained my certification as a Wedding Planner with The Bridal Society, so when I opened my shop, I continued to offer bridal assistance with wedding invitations, ceremonies & Reception Candles.

Tell us about yourself

Originally from Beacon, New York, my passion for candles began at the age of 15 when my grandmother, who lived off the grid, taught me how to make candles. After High School, I began my retail career when I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan with a degree in Fashion Buying & Merchandising, then went on to graduate from Baruch College with a Bachelor in Business Administration. In 2014, I moved from Manhattan to the Hudson Valley and began commuting on the Metro-North from the city of Poughkeepsie to downtown Manhattan. The daily long commute in the "quiet car" of the Metro-North gave me a lot of "me time" with my thoughts. It was then that the idea of opening my own shop began. I made the decision in the summer of 2015 to do what I've always loved, candles and retail. I also offer candle-making classes twice a week in the evenings for a small fee. My goal is to influence those who walk into my shop that Life is Better with Candles.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think that my biggest accomplishment has been the loyalty of my customers. Throughout the pandemic shutdowns, they continued to support my business and followed me when I moved my shop from Pleasant Valley to Eastdale Village in the town of Poughkeepsie. I've also developed close relationships with advertising executives and other business owners.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Taking time off has been the most difficult, including bringing work home after I close the shop for the evening. It also took me a while to get used to cash flow not always being constant.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

I have three important tips to offer and would do differently if I had an opportunity to do it over again.

  1. If possible - Purchase a turn-key business and just add your niche/specialty.
    Reason - It takes more money than you think to start from scratch.
  2. Hire at least one person to help you a few hours a week.
    Reason - It will allow you to take care of yourself, and it will help grow your business.
  3. Obtain a loan while you still have a "salary" based full-time job, and I highly recommend that someone in your household continues to have a "secure" second source of income.
    Reason - When you are self-employed, money goes out quicker than it comes in. It may take you at least seven years or longer to break even.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Before I made my decision to relocate to Eastdale Village, I reached out to SCORE Mentors of Dutchess County. Score's mentors, comprised of active and retired businessmen and women, provide free and confidential business counseling. If possible, take advantage of free services and develop a relationship with your local public library, houses of worship, and local radio station and keep up with social media platforms; it's free advertising.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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