Leanne first began selling macarons to Orange County tea shops in 2011. Three years later, she and Pawel opened Honey & Butter, baking cookies in their studio apartment and selling them in a rented Airstream trailer at The Lab in Costa Mesa.
One day, a customer suggested Leanne make macarons shaped like cats, so she gave it a try. “They turned out pretty cute,” she says. “We knew we could sell them.”
It was a lightbulb moment.
Soon, she was making macarons in the shape of Pokeman, panda bears, Snow White and Sailor Moon. Customers were scooping them up.
And that led to their next big break – moving into Irvine Spectrum Center.
An Irvine success story
In 2016, they opened their first brick-and-mortar shop at Spectrum Center and started gaining attention as Leanne created ever-more intricate characters from pop culture.
“Irvine Spectrum was the perfect place,” Pawel says. “It gave us good exposure and a window of opportunity for exciting collaborations with world-wide brands.”
Last March, when they released macarons based on characters from the game Rune Factory 5, fans began lining up the night before the event.
“Beyond delicious and definitely the best macarons I’ve ever had,” one customer posted online the next day.
“Irvine Spectrum was the perfect place. It gave us good exposure and a window of opportunity for exciting collaborations with worldwide brands.” – Pawel Pietrasinski
Honey & Butter posts on Instagram and Facebook when specialty macarons are available. They also post a rotating menu of innovative flavors and a daily menu of favorites like Oreo, Fruity Pebbles, Milk & Honey and Enchanted Berries. Fan favorites sell out often, so be sure to arrive early.
A passion for what they do
Amazingly, the Pietrasinskis are completely self-taught.
“All the flavors are personally developed by Pawel and me, so a lot of them are unique to only us,” Leanne says. “We have many Asian-inspired flavors, such as Mango Sticky Rice, Pandan Coconut, Passion Fruit Yuzu and Royal Durian. I am now developing a lychee flavor.”
Everything from the almond flour shells to the buttercream filling is made from scratch daily. And each cookie is piped by hand, which is why the couple recently worked a 12-hour day to make 188 macarons based on Japanese anime TV characters Toyama Kasumi and Ran Mitake.
Leanne’s artistry required 13 layers of piping on each cookie and required Pawel to make several batches of macaron batter to keep the consistency right.
“The work isn’t yet done,” Leanne said at the end of the day. “They’ll need backs and buttercream filling after they bake.”
It could be easy to miss such dedication when you’re enjoying a Honey & Butter macaron, but each cookie is the result of their passion – for baking macarons and building their business.
“It’s been an amazing and humbling experience,” they say. “We have met so many amazing people and gained an extraordinary following. We feel lucky.”