Entrepreneur Spotlight: Student Interview with Dylan Sanglay
Named by Las Vegas Entrepreneurs as one of its “Top 25 under 25” special ‘Spring Break’ 2020 edition, Dylan Sanglay is an entrepreneurship student at the UNLV Lee Business School and has achieved great success as the owner of DSigner, a reselling business that he started when he was 17-years-old.
Make sure to follow him on Instagram @Dsanglay!
Q: Can you describe a little bit about your business and how you got started?
A: I started when I was 17-years-old. I started my own shop at 18-years-old. Now, I just turned 20 in October, so I have been doing this now for about 2 ½ years. When I started my business, I only had $40 and with that $40, I bought 12 items from Savers. The items that I bought were not super, super high-end items, of course, because it was only to thrift, but they were items that I knew I could flip for a profit. Even if it was just a $1 or $5, I knew that if I were to flip this item, I knew that I could get profit regardless. And…I was right! When I did get profit from those items, I reinvested all that money back into the business. I didn’t focus on the money and I still don’t focus on the money to this day. The thing with me is money’s on my mind, but it’s not in my heart. The purpose of my business was to give back and I wanted to give back and just make other people happy as well. That is why, on my birthday, I had bought and collected a bunch of clothes to give back to the homeless community. After that day, it was just me, and then each and every month, I would go with my family to give back to the homeless with the profits that I made. Now, a percentage that I make goes back to the homeless community. I have homeless events each and every month along with multiple pop-up shop events that I also host monthly.
Q: How did you learn what to do as an entrepreneur?
A: I started my entrepreneurial journey back in grade school. When I first started selling it was like candy, lollipops and, little toys when I was in 3rd grade. When I was in middle school, my elementary and middle school would have ice cream every single Friday of the month. At the end of the week, my mom would usually give me $1 so that I could get ice cream. But, I didn’t want to ask my mom for money anymore, so I thought, I need to learn to make my own money. So, my grandma always used to buy me jolly rancher lollipops and in the bag, there would be 40 little lollipops of different flavors from watermelon, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, and all that stuff. I would tell my grandma to buy me these every single week when I saw her and she would think that I was eating them at school or by myself, but I wasn’t doing any of that. I had a bunch of lollipops in my backpack and I was just flipping them to my classmates. I would come home with a bunch of quarters and $1 bills in my jacket every day. That is how I would buy my own ice cream. At a young age, I was pretty frugal as well. I knew the value of money and I knew that I needed to save it. I would use some of the money on ice cream, then I would also save the money in a shoebox. That is kind of how I started my entrepreneurial journey. When I was in 4th grade, I would flip those little toys that you would get at the quarter machines. I remember, when I was younger, I would always say that an item was either “rare or limited edition”. It would create some type of hype around an item. Obviously, my classmates were young at the time, the same as me, so they would bite on it as well. That was the thing that I always did, I would always flip items. At a young age, I wanted to be in the medical field, I wanted to be a chiropractor to an NBA player or a doctor, but then I decided that I just wanted to pursue being an entrepreneur. I have no regrets and I love what I do each and every day. I believe I found my passion and this is what I will continue to do. For me, the goal is to do whatever makes me happy because I am going to be stuck doing that thing for the rest of my life versus if I were to become a doctor or something else in the medical field, not being as happy as I could If I was an entrepreneur. I chose my happiness over the financials. I chose my happiness over my mom and dad’s goals that they had set for me.
Q: As you started to build your business, did you create a community among other entrepreneurs in Vegas? Do you look to certain ones as your role model?
As I was growing up, I had a few mentors that I would look up to as a role model. My mom was a major one. My mom is in the medical field, but we have the same mindset. My mom and I always challenge each other. Regardless of what it is, we always challenge each other to do better each and every day. My mom came from nothing. She came from the Philippines, she would have to walk to school on rainy days, on the worst days, she would still have to walk. She was never given anything, always had to work hard for it. My mom was a maid in high school, she used to clean houses. She has been through so much and it really inspires me to be the best version of myself as possible. My mom has come from nothing and turned her life completely around. Now, she is a nurse practitioner dermatologist and that took her like three years to get into. She never gave up. The first two times, they didn’t accept her. On the third time, they finally did. She is following her dream, which is awesome. I want to follow the same path, but in my own unique way.
I love networking. Anywhere and everywhere I go, I network. Regardless of where I am, I always tell people what I do and my purpose. I love listening to their stories and their visions as well because nothing beats meeting someone with the same passion or same vision as you. For me, I am a reseller, I have my own clothing line, my own clothing brand. But, I also sell a vast variety of items, not only clothes and shoes, but I also sell toys, games, little fidget spinners. Even at the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I would sell candy still, like I did when I was a younger kid. Throughout all those different avenues of me trying to create different sources of income, I have met so many people that have helped me get to where I am at today. Now, I have different avenues, where I could be like, “I need a bulk buy of candy”, I could go to this person. I need a bulk buy of blank T-shirts, I could go to this person. I need a design for my brand, so I am going to go to this person. I have grown my network to a point where I know that if I were to need something ever, then I can go to a specific person for that thing. I have built so many different great relationships with everyone that could potentially be a part of what I am trying to build in the future as well.
As far as the resale game, I am always with resellers at least a few times every month because of the events I host. I am always around people who are either better than me or people who just want to learn. For the people who want to learn, I always offer like an internship for them or a mentorship service where I can help them and they can come with me to my events or they could just contact me whenever they need on the phone. I always go on lives (streaming video) to provide value to those who want to learn how to make some side money or to those who want to make their own business someday. I want to be able to provide value and inspire those around me in doing something that they love to do. By surrounding myself with people that are better, it helps me grow as well. I can see that they are doing something different and test to see if it could work for me. I can change it and put it in my own unique way.
Q: What businesses are models for you to follow and what have you done to learn about these businesses?
A: Some brands that I usually talk about are Toms or Off-White because of their stories. For example, Off-White does some of the most unique things that people have never seen before. I have been trying to model myself like that, but in my own way. I love their uniqueness and their pieces. It is crazy that the owner of Off-White, which is Virgil, can literally write something random on a shoe and it will go for thousands and thousands of dollars.
For Toms, obviously a lot of people know that, with a purchase of their shoes or anything that they sell, they also give back to the homeless community or someone in need. So, the same thing with Dsigner¬, a percentage of all my profits goes back to the homeless community and it’s just solely about the uniqueness in the items, the value, and the different touches they make a certain amount of money or inspiration throughout their items. Like with Toms, it is the “give back” aspect as well.
Q: What are the signs of a successful business? What signs indicate that an entrepreneur is worth learning from?
A: Here’s the thing with people who are trying to learn, there are different types of entrepreneurs that you can learn from. So, I would just choose one and the one that I have chosen is GaryVee, or Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur who helped his father open up Empathy Wine which is their wine company. I think they were the first e-commerce-based wine business and after he grew his father’s wine business he started his own marketing business where he helps other brands grow. He has a book called “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook” and he just talks about providing, like “give give give” and once you provide enough value then ask. He always tells people to show people what you got. If you’re a photographer, go work for the bigger brands like Nike or Adidas and work for them for free and try to get an internship. Give them free services and then ask if you can be a part of their company or something. That’s just an example. He also talks a lot about empathy and I think that’s a big one, too. Empathy and perspective. He always talks about that. He also talks about sports cards being bigger than sneakers soon, so I’ve been investing in a bunch of sports cards, as well. Stockx is a place where you can appraise different brand new shoes. The market and the buy is different when it is brand new or used. So for a used sneaker, obviously, it would depreciate over time and with a brand new sneaker then it will always go up over time, depending on what it is. Now, they’re putting sports cards on Stockx as well. Zion Williamson of the NBA just got drafted and his rookie card right now is worth about $5,000.
Q: What is your major?
A: Business and entrepreneurship.
Q: How do you want to grow your business in the future?
A: I’m a process guy. This to me is the dream. The process is the dream. Me going or waking up at 5 a.m. and going to the warehouse and staying there for five or six hours is the process and I love that. Me going out and buying all of these shoes and all these clothes and the hunt is what is big for me. That’s the dream to me. In the future, I want to see my business having multiple shops, like one shop for toys, one shop for clothes and shoes, and one shop for games. I just want to be known as the entrepreneur that builds this amazing business and that is helping other entrepreneurs be successful in their very own way. I also want to be known for happiness within the business as well. I want to show people how passionate I am about what I do. I’m not doing this because I want to be a millionaire or a billionaire one day, I am doing this because this is my passion and this is what I love to do. I want to be able to give back to as many people as I possibly can especially to those who have helped me get to the top.
Q: How did you get into social media and which outlets did you think were most effective in sharing your brand?
A: I started going heavy in social media in late 2017, when I started my main brand, Dsigner. As I went on, I need to focus on my personal brand as well which is DSanglay. A lot of my supporters and audience know me as DSanglay. They don’t know me as Dylan Sanglay, they know me as D Sanglay for short. That’s when I started getting heavy on it. The different social media platforms that I post on are Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, and a big one now for me is TikTok. When I started TikTok in September of 2019, someone came to speak at our classroom and I asked the speaker “How important is personal branding to you?” and they said, “Personal branding is really important to me.” And then I asked, “What social media platforms do you post on?” and they replied that they only post on one platform which is YouTube. I then asked them if they would ever consider starting a TikTok and then the whole class started laughing. And at the time, I didn’t understand and I explained to them why TikTok was important. The thing about TikTok is that people think that it’s just a platform where ten-year-old or fourteen-year-old kids can interact with each other and post dancing videos or funny skits of each other, but it’s not. TikTok is another social media platform that we can promote on as businesses, so anything you put on Facebook or Instagram can be put on TikTok as well. If you’re not on TikTok or Linkedin, which are two platforms that are growing dramatically, then I feel that you are losing out on a lot of opportunities for growth. Obviously, Instagram is a big one for me personally, but TikTok and Linkedin have helped me get to where I am at today as well. Let’s say you have 0 followers on TikTok and you were to post one video if that video were to blow up and I’ve seen it happen before. One of my friends posted a TikTok, he had 0 followers, he was inactive, he posted one TikTok and that TikTok is now at 300,000 views. I’ve experienced the same thing, but when I started I wasn’t going as heavy as I am now. Right now, I’m posting 15 times a day on TikTok, which is pretty crazy. I get 500 to 1,000 followers a day and I convert those followers to my Instagram and I’ve gotten some sales from TikTok as well. I’m getting monetized from TikTok. It is the number one app as of right now. A bunch of my videos have gone viral as well. My highest viewed video has 500,000 views. People on TikTok see all my content and they go on my story and they buy anything that they want to buy as well. I also have a podcast as well on Spotify and Apple Music. My podcast is Dylan Sanglay TV, but I only have two episodes out because I just started it. My mom was my first guest. TikTok is huge and it’s cool, too. Let’s say you have a 30-minute YouTube video and that 30-minute video can turn into a podcast and you can cut pieces of content to post on your Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter. A lot of people cover so much in one twenty to thirty-minute video on YouTube and they don’t understand that you can cut little pieces of content and post on other platforms.
Q: Do you have a schedule, or do you post as you go?
A: I post as I go. I don’t really follow a schedule just because I know there are different time zones based on my audience. I go live on TikTok and in order to do that you need 1,000 followers. I go live on TikTok and I go live on Instagram and there’s a bunch of people from places all around the world, which is really crazy. For me, I don’t think it really matters, I just don’t post too late or too early.
Q: How did you come up with your slogan?
A: It was funny. One day I was making a video for my business initially. I was like, “Make sure you don’t sleep on all this heat.” And my customers were like “Don’t sleep, I got the heat.” I should have saved the video because that’s when I started saying it heavy. That slogan is what a lot of people know me by. When people see me in public they go “Don’t sleep” and then I say “I got the heat.” So, “Don’t sleep, I got the heat” is super catchy and it resembles the business so perfectly.