‘I know he’s a call away’: Father and son balance life as co-owners of Dayton barbershop

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Dayton entrepreneur Anthony Thomas is setting his son, Anthony Zailan Thomas, up for success by helping him open Lux Barber Lounge in the historic Wright Dunbar Business District, but staying behind the scenes.

His advice to other dads in business with their sons is to let them make their own mistakes, but to be there to help if needed.

“You can’t be at the forefront if you want him to take it over or run his own spot,” Anthony said. “You have to let him lead and let him ask you for help.”

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

The father-son duo opened Lux Barber Lounge in Nov. 2022 at 1115 W. Third St. The upscale barbershop is a one-stop shop for professional grooming and cosmetology services. Anthony said men with dreadlocks often have to get them twisted from one person and then go to someone else to get lined up. Lux Barber Lounge was the first barbershop in Dayton to have three locticians and three barbers on site — allowing those with dreadlocks to get everything done in one place.

The idea of opening a barbershop came about after Anthony Zailan graduated from Trotwood-Madison High School in 2019 and decided to go to Dayton Barber College. After completing the program, he was working at a shop that Anthony knew didn’t have a great reputation. While Anthony was working on opening Taco Street Co. in W. Social Tap & Table, he had his eye on the spot across the street for his son.

“If I can help him, there’s no question he’s going to get the help,” Anthony said.

His motto for raising his four children is, “I made them and I’m going to take care of them.”

“I’m going to make sure they’re good forever,” Anthony said. “As long as I have life in my lungs, they don’t have to worry about nothing. I’m going to work hard just so they don’t have to work as hard as I have to work.”

Anthony Zailan said his dad has always held him to a higher standard because he has younger brothers and needs to lead by example. The number one thing his dad has taught him is “responsibility.” His advice for those graduating high school is to listen to their parents.

“They’ve been here before. They know,” Anthony Zailan said. “I have to listen, so I can figure out how to do it on my own.”

With his dad being a serial entrepreneur, Anthony Zailan knows he has some big shoes to fill. At 23 years old, his goal is to open a business on his own. He hopes to have several Lux Barber Lounge locations in the future.

As Anthony Zailan has just started his own entrepreneurial journey, he said he is working on his social skills and finding the balance between being a friend and boss.

“We’re all family basically,” Anthony Zailan said. “It doesn’t really feel like I’m working when I’m in here.”

Anthony said he’s proud of watching his son grow into the young man he is today.

“I’ve never had a dad, so I don’t know what a dad feels like to have,” Anthony said. “With me and Anthony, I try to make sure that we’re friends. He can come and...talk to me about anything. I don’t want him to ever feel like he can’t come and talk to me if something’s going on with him.”

Anthony Zailan said it’s never been hard to talk to his dad because he feels like they have a lot in common and over the years, they’ve become closer.

“I know he’s a call away,” Anthony Zailan said.

He described his dad as strong, innovative and adaptable. Anthony described his son as compassionate, stable and loving.

The two have worked together to open a bright spot in Dayton’s Wright Dunbar District. Lux Barber Lounge was recognized at the Best Barbershop in the 2024 Gem City People’s Choice Awards.

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