We had the good fortune of connecting with Sebastian Flores and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sebastian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
As a young teen, I wasn’t old enough to get a traditional job. State laws require employees to be at least 14, and most local businesses only hire 15 and 16 year-olds. However, teenagers 12 and older can work in family-run businesses, which provided me with a way to make money as a 13-year-old. But what did I need a job for? I didn’t need bills to pay, or gas to buy, so why would I possibly need to start a business? The answer is simple. Drums. I was in my school’s percussion class in the band, and I wanted to take it a step further. When you hear the word drums, you don’t think of the concert snare players or the marching bass drums. You think of loud rock’n’roll drum sets. That’s what I wanted. And I needed money for it, which is where my business came in. I’ve always had a knack for creating small trinkets from recycling, things like paper airplanes, arcade machines made of cardboard boxes, and toys made from old water bottles. Now that I had my skill set, I just needed a product. And so OctoGifts was born.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always had a creative soul, mated with a love for how things work. Ever since I was a child, sitting by the edge of the pool and pouring water back and forth between empty ketchup bottles and plastic cups. Movement and figuring out the world around me have been a huge part of myself. My creative endeavors as a child ranged from coloring on DIY puzzle kits to building elaborate pinball machines from empty boxes we got from Costco. And of course, I made sure those pinball machines were beautiful, even if they didn’t always work. Eventually, this creative energy led me to candy machines. I tried to make them out of everything around me. LEGO, cardboard boxes, wooden popsicle sticks, you name it. I wouldn’t say I was obsessed, but that topic certainly held my interest for quite a while. I even built a small candy dispenser out of an empty candy box that I gave to a friend for his birthday. Naturally, my interest in candy machines subsided. I still loved them, but more like an old friend, and the winter of 2019 was our reunion. I am most proud of that first OctoGift I built, that poorly made paper heart I designed in PowerPoint that didn’t even dispense candy. It wouldn’t be until my third try that it worked, but the first one will always hold a place in my heart. I encountered many issues on the way to a fully functional machine. The mechanism got stuck, the paper pieces came apart, the glue wouldn’t dry. I overcame these challenges through sheer persistence. I could have given up when the first machine didn’t work. I didn’t. I kept working at it until I had something I was proud of, something I could sell.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll get the obvious answers out of the way first. Centennial Olympic Park, the World of Coca-Cola, the Atlanta Zoo, and the Georgia Aquarium. The main tourist spots. Outside of that, living in the suburbs, I have come to love the outdoor malls, especially the ones in Forsyth County. One of my favorite restaurants, CT Taqueria, is in Halcyon off of McFarland Parkway. If you’re looking for something nicer, the best upscale restaurants in the city are in Buckhead. I had some of the best Italian food in a place called Pricci. There are plenty of places to hang out in the city as well. Many of the shopping centers I mentioned earlier have interesting stores and places to be, along with movie theaters and other unique attractions. Atlanta also boasts a few entertainment options, such as TopGolf and Six Flags over Georgia.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my mom, Melanie Flores. Running a business with her has been difficult for the past few years. If you can imagine living with your boss, that what it’s like. It’s hard to separate OctoGifts from normal life. Despite our struggles and differences over the past two years, I would not be where I am today without her. She has given me so much through mentorship advice, help with networking, setting up interviews and podcasts, as well as investing her own time and energy into production when I can’t. Thank you, Mom.

Website: octogifts.com

Instagram: octo.gifts

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