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BizHawk: Mother and Daughter Reunite After 25 Years & Take Over Popular Coast Village Road Salon

Hair stylist Jennifer Palocsay tracked down her birth mother, Cindy Brokaw, to find out that she too was a stylist in California

Mother-daughter duo Cindy Brokaw, left, and Jennifer Palocsay reunited after 25 years to discover they had very similar interests. They run Haven Salon together on Coast Village Road. Click to view larger
Mother-daughter duo Cindy Brokaw, left, and Jennifer Palocsay reunited after 25 years to discover they had very similar interests. They run Haven Salon together on Coast Village Road. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

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Cindy Brokaw and Jennifer Palocsay both moved to California from Arizona in 1985. Both are married to men named Brian, and both lost mothers in 2000. They’re also longtime hair stylists who “are both obnoxious,” Palocsay said, albeit “in different ways,” Brokaw noted.

If the coincidences appear to run a little too deep, it’s no surprise to Palocsay.

“There was a hole in my soul that need to be filled — that I have blood relations that I don’t know,” she said of her youth. “And as wonderful as my family was … you need to know your roots. I was 100-percent convinced that my birth mom and I were exactly the same. I knew it.”

Palocsay’s adoption process began as soon as she was born in Tucson in 1980.

Brokaw found out she was pregnant at 22, and though she had long known the father, they were not getting married, and Brokaw had to take care of her mother.

“She realized this was not the family environment that she wanted me to be raised in,” Palocsay explained.

One of Brokaw’s friends worked for Palocsay’s adopted father. Per Arizona’s private adoption rules, Brokaw left the hospital without having seen her daughter.

“She wanted me to be raised in a really good family environment,” Palocsay said.

After reuniting 25 years later, they worked together in hair styling for two years before taking over Shear Pleasure from popular industry veteran Julie Stamatis, who worked out the transfer in secret with her former colleague, Brokaw.

Since March 15, the pair have run it as the newly-named Haven Salon, which is at 1150 Coast Village Road in Santa Barbara.

“We really wanted to create a safe haven for people to come, especially with everything that’s going on with the world and everything that’s going on in the business,” Palocsay told Noozhawk outside Haven’s gilded front door, in and out of which her mother dashed as she attended to a fully booked slate of clients.

“We want people to have a fun place to come and visit.”

After 25 years under the ownership of Julie Stamatis, Shear Pleasure of 1150 Coast Village Road became Haven Salon. Click to view larger
After 25 years under the ownership of Julie Stamatis, Shear Pleasure of 1150 Coast Village Road became Haven Salon.  (Contributed photo)

The duo kept on many of Shear’s regulars and stylists and hired more, and is expanding on Stamatis’ services with new products.

Haven serves women, men and children, and does haircuts and the full array of styling services. Its products are all organically based and ammonia-free, they said. 

Palocsay said she grew up knowing she was adopted, and on top of her birthday, her family also celebrated her adoption day. As a kid, she would tell everyone she met that she was adopted in the same way one might brag about heading off to a prestigious university or winning the science fair.

She was raised by a loving family, but she always had a burning desire to discover her birth mother, Palocsay said.

When she was 16, her adopted mother was stricken with cancer, a trying time that also provided Palocsay’s first breakthrough in her search: her mom received a medical bill in Brokaw’s name.

Palocsay took the clue and spent years combing through the Yellow Pages, but took time off from her search when her mother passed away when she was 19.

In her 20s, Palocsay hired a private investigator, who struggled for a long time to find a promising lead, telling her at one point that “it’s like she doesn’t exist.”

But out of the blue one day, she received a call from the investigator. He had finally tracked her birth mother down, telling Palocsay that Brokaw too was a stylist and color educator, “and she’s going to call you tonight at 6 o’clock.”

Palocsay remembers being told, “She has been waiting for you to contact her her whole life.” 

From that first phone call, mother and daughter hit it off, discussing hair color and business, and met up soon after. The year was 2005.

With more than 50 years of combined experience, the two continue to freely bounce styling ideas off each other. They’re still in the process of renovating their salon, adding new products and displaying local artists’ work.

To bolster their sustainability efforts, they’ve submitted an application to Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based ecological nonprofit that uses hair clippings to create booms that soak up oil from spills on the ocean.

Absorbent hair clippings could also be used in mats Matter of Trust makes for use in storm drains to prevent oil and other residues from flowing out to the ocean.

Palocsay repeatedly emphasized how well her and Brokaw’s relationship turned out, and how perfectly matched they are for their business.

“I’m really lucky to have another chance to have a mom, but she’s more like my best friend,” she said. “We’re more like twins in a sense.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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