Young Entrepreneur Helping to Eliminate Homelessness

By Carla Calderon

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Dylan Sanglay is in his office sorting through clothes. He meticulously logs each item on his phone, deciding which would sell well or be better to give away. Either way, it’s all going to help the homeless.

I first met Sanglay at my friends’ basketball game a year ago. He was new on the team and he eagerly intoruced himself to everyone around him. Immediately after, he asked “Do you follow me on Instagram?” I was caught off guard by his confidence. I had never met someone who casually asked strangers if they follow them on social media or not and truthfully, I hesitated to answer.

I followed in my friends who answered “no” and Sanglay asked to see our phones. He typed in his handle and had us all follow him. At a glance, his Instagram is the hub of all his work. In Sanglay’s bio, it’s shown that he’s the CEO and founder of D.Signer, his business where he sells new and used items.

Initially, his business didn’t interest me. But after following him and getting to know him more, I began wanting to support him. Other than posting about his business, Sanglay also made posts to encourage others.

Sanglay believes in doing work that you’re passionate about. In reading his posts and following his journey, I began to feel inspired. Eventually I also found out that a portion of his proceeds goes to the homeless community. Giving back to the community is innate to me and I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the past, so I connected with him even more.
He doesn’t give himself a day off. He’s constantly grinding and giving his all into his work, hoping to make a difference in the world.

His Start

Dylan Sanglay is currently a freshman at UNLV as a business major. But his journey didn’t start there. Ever since he was young, starting in third or fourth grade, Sanglay would sell candy and little toys. He would come home with $20 in his hands and his mom would question where he got that money.

When he was 16, Sanglay started his own basketball training during his sophomore year of high school. Throughout his high school career, he was a part of the varsity basketball team and he had been playing basketball since middle school, so he felt qualified to do it. Kids would pay him $40 for two hours. With 5 kids to train, he came out with $200 in total.

He started his current business, D.Signer, which sells new and used items, his junior year of high school. “I started with $40 and a vision,” Sanglay says. “With $40 I went to Savers, started with a Starter jacket, True Religion jacket, a few t-shirts, and that was it.”

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Sanglay’s first receipt from Savers

Sanglay took the items he bought from the secondhand clothing shop and sold it to his high school friends and family for about $20-25 each. The profit he made from the sales were reinvested back into the business. Since then, his business and influence has grown tremendously, allowing him to help the community in eliminating homelessness.

Stick to the medical field

In the beginning of his college career, Sanglay was majoring in kinesiology. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” Sanglay explained. “Medical field was always the goal.”

But when he began taking classes for his major, Sanglay didn’t enjoy it as much as doing his business. “While taking [biology] 189, I focused a lot on the business – which was bad,” Sanglay said. He was constantly attending meetings and going to different events to network. His family rarely saw Sanglay at home.

Last May, Sanglay was invited to a national business competition. His grandma came to visit from Texas and Sanglay told her about the competition. While his grandma was helping him with his annual report for the competition, she began to discourage him.

“This is not gonna bring you the six or seven figures in five years,” Sanglay describing what she said, “This is not gonna bring you the money you want.” Sanglay said she continued to tell him to stick to the medical route and be like his mom. “Look at your mom, she’s so successful, she’s a registered nurse and practitioner.”

His parents were also against him focusing on his business. They thought it was taking him away from his studies and was the cause for his lack of scholarships from UNLV. “They told me I should’ve focused on getting scholarships at UNLV instead of something stupid like the business.”

Ultimately, Sanglay found his passion in business. After his first college semester, Sanglay decided to go all in and change his major to business. Rather than wasting time in a major he didn’t enjoy, he aspired to work on his business. “I wanted something more than just the medical field – something more than just a 9 to 5 job,” Sanglay said. “I was looking to build this business from the ground up, even though no one believed I could do it.”

You can help people in so many different ways

Although his family wasn’t immediately on board, Sanglay says he found his passion in business. “Ever since I was young, I always wanted to help people,” Sanglay said. “But you can help people in so many different ways – not just the medical field. You can help people physically, emotionally.” He does his business not only to help the homeless community, but to satisfy his customers’ needs as well.

Sanglay is constantly doing events around town. He often does pop-ups, where he’ll announce a location days beforehand to sells items and connect with his customers. It’s only a tent and a few tables, but many people come out.

He says the amount of people that attend can vary depending on the type of event and its location. “I would say around 50 to 200 people max come to my pop-up,” Sanglay explained. “The most I’ve had was when I was at Foodie Fest a few weeks ago.”

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Sanglay in front of his tent at Foodie Fest

He finds it really important to create a relationship with his customers and the people in his community. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And he takes a lot of pride in being able to provide more than just items for them.

“When someone purchases an item, I take photos with them,” Sanglay explains, “I post it on Instagram and thank them personally, tag them, and they repost it. From then on, it’s another relationship I’ve built.”

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Sanglay with customers at his recent Fluff Ice event

On top of posting about items he’s selling and community events he’s hosting, Sanglay also makes posts to motivate people. “There was this girl,” Sanglay said, “She’s a senior in high school and she thought about dropping out because of everything she’s going through.” But because of Sanglay’s Instagram posts, she got inspired. “Now I’m gonna graduate in white,” she said, “I’m gonna continue my education and you really pushed me to do it.”

Sanglay feels that his parents don’t understand how much of the positive impact he has. A lot of his family doesn’t use social media, so they don’t see that side of him and his work.

Eliminating Homelessness

A portion of Sanglay’s proceeds always goes to the homeless. Coming from nothing, Sanglay says he doesn’t feel superior or inferior to anyone else. “People have the perspective of turning away from the homeless,” Sanglay explained, “I didn’t like that.”

While helping his grandparents move out, Sanglay took the clothes they wanted to throw away. On his way home with his sister, the two saw a homeless man on the side of the road. Rather than turning away from him, Sanglay gave him the two bags of clothes. The man was glad to receive it, and this sparked something in Sanglay.

On his 18th birthday, his family went to downtown to donate a couple bags of clothing to the homeless instead of having a huge celebration. “It made me happy and everybody else around me happy,” Sanglay said.

Eventually, Sanglay heard about CARE Complex from one of his mentors’ daughters. His mentors told him not to spread himself too thin by focusing on too many organizations. They said to focus on one or two main organizations and that’s when he began to work with CARE Complex.

Working with CARE

The CARE Complex is a non-profit organization located in the heart of the “Corridor of Hope” in downtown Las Vegas. CARE stands for Critical Assistance Relief Effort and it’s an organization that’s only been around since 2014. Their services include clothing, hygiene, computer and phone access, resume building, and secure locker storage.

CARE’s founder, Michael Swecker, saw a number of organizations provide the necessary shelter and food, but inadvertently continue the cycle of homelessness. Brittany Corder, CARE’s services director and only paid employee said, “If an individual is wanting to END their homelessness, not serve it, there isn’t a lot of help for them.” They target those who are currently experiencing homelessness and either working or actively seeking employment.

Every year the city does a “homeless census survey” and have consistently found that clothing is one of the largest barriers when it comes to gaining employment. While CARE does have clothing closets, they can easily distribute 100 t-shirts on a busy day.

Sanglay has only been working with CARE Complex for five or six months, but they have already built a good relationship. “Dylan has, on several occasions, come to supplement [clean clothing] – which is a huge burden off our shoulders,” Corder said, “He has been a number of times, bringing and distributing clothing.”

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Having similar views to CARE, Sanglay fits right in with them. He wants to inspire them to do something of their own and get off the streets. “If they see someone as young as me going out there and trying to help the homeless, maybe they’ll get inspired to get off their feet and try to find a job and try to do something they’re passionate about.”

He tries to host events there a couple times a month. At an event with CARE Complex, Sanglay says he fills his trunk with a bunch of donated clothes or items he personally purchased. He then posts flyer about it on his Instagram and encourages others to take part.

“It’s different if people want to donate to your organization rather than going with you to events downtown,” Sanglay said, “You should go with me downtown and actually give that money or food or clothing to the homeless yourself. It’ll make you happy and it’ll make the other person happy as well.”

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