Sebastian Flores and Melanie Flores, OctoGifts (North Fulton Business Radio, Episode 373)
Fifteen-year-old Sebastian Flores and his mom Melanie joined host John Ray to share how OctoGifts has evolved since their first visit in October 2019. Sebastian “fired” his mom and took over the primary business operations in 2020. Sebastian talked about transitioning to a DIY model for the product, what functions he continues to “outsource” to Melanie, shared his advice for other young adults wanting to start their own business, and much more. Melanie also shared why it is so vital to Sebastian’s growth for her to step back and offered advice for other parents with entrepreneurial-minded young people. North Fulton Business Radio is broadcast from the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX® inside Renasant Bank in Alpharetta.
OctoGifts celebrate love, friendship, and your inner child by offering candy dispensers and greeting cards that are fun to give and fun to keep.
OctoGifts is the brainstorm of 13-year-old co-founder Sebastian Flores. At age 11, he decided to make a combination candy dispenser greeting card for a friend who loved sweets. With no luck in searching for how-to videos on YouTube, Sebastian realized he’d have to figure it out himself. After hours of experimenting, he had built a working machine out of items that he salvaged from the recycling bin, as well as his art supply stash. In January of 2019, he revisited this idea and redesigned his card in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day. His greeting cards sold out within hours on Etsy, and Sebastian knew that he was on to something. He pitched his creation at the 2019 Alpharetta Business Expo; served as an entrepreneurship panelist at the 2019 MantisEdu UNCF STEM summer camp at Clark Atlanta University; made the 2019 Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 25 under 25 list; and has been featured in numerous publications including the Alpharetta-Roswell Herald and the Forsyth County News.
Sebastian Flores, Founder, OctoGifts
Fifteen-year-old Sebastian Flores is the founder of OctoGifts, a company offering playful 3D DIY cards and keepsakes. Armed with a knack for math and origami, a passion for making, and a cutting machine, he is spreading joy and human connection amidst a pandemic. His patent-pending creations are a mashup between 3D puzzles, candy dispensers, and greeting cards. What started as a surprise for a childhood friend has grown into a business with 400+ units sold across 25 states. Sebastian has been featured in Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global platform, Authority Magazine, Atlanta Inno’s 25 under 25 list, VoyageATL magazine’s Most Inspiring Stories, the InventRight YouTube channel, Elementary STEM CON 2020, Making It in the Toy Industry podcast, the Business Infrastructure podcast, Forsyth County News, and Alpharetta-Roswell Herald. Most recently, he was a featured speaker at the International Children’s Advisory Network’s global summit.
Sebastian lives in Alpharetta with his parents and older brother. He plans to become a mechanical engineer.
Melanie Flores, “Volunteer Business Support” and former Co-Founder, OctoGifts
His mother Melanie Flores leverages an engineer’s mind, a teacher’s heart, and a gardener’s hands to help people learn and share memorable experiences together. She started up Corning’s optical fiber factory in the Charlotte, NC area, founded a popular kindergarten engineering design workshop based on a famous MIT course, and led the STEM coaching team serving Easter Seals teachers across metro Atlanta. Her work has been featured by TEDxJacksonville, TEDxAlpharettaWomen, Women 2.0, the National Association of Independent Schools, Engineering is Elementary, MIT’s pK-12 Action Group, the Boston Museum of Science, and many other entities. She has recently joined SymTrain, an Atlanta-based tech startup that helps customer-facing employees train/upskill faster by automating and scaling experiential learning.
North Fulton Business Radio is hosted by John Ray, and broadcast and produced from the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX® inside Renasant Bank in Alpharetta. You can find the full archive of shows by following this link. The show is available on all the major podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others.
Renasant Bank has humble roots, starting in 1904 as a $100,000 bank in a Lee County, Mississippi, bakery. Since then, Renasant has grown to become one of the Southeast’s strongest financial institutions with over $13 billion in assets and more than 190 banking, lending, wealth management and financial services offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. All of Renasant’s success stems from each of their banker’s commitment to investing in their communities as a way of better understanding the people they serve. At Renasant Bank, they understand you because they work and live alongside you every day.