Missy Ostrowski and Marissa Engisch shared future career ideas before they ever knew each other.
Even as children.
“All we wanted to do was push buttons,” Ostrowski said of her and Engisch’s shared childhood dream job.
Ostrowski said she also wanted to be a spy or a lawyer, and Engisch a Latin gang intelligence officer. “I would have been killed first day on the job,” Engisch laughed.
Both in their mid-20s, Ostrowski and Engisch still have a shared passion, not for button-pushing or espionage, but for something a lot sweeter. Cupcakes.
Ostrowski and Engisch have plans to open their own cupcake business, with hopes of landing a storefront in downtown Brainerd. They still need a kitchen, and a storefront, and a means to finance the venture, but they have plans.
“We’re in the dream process right now,” Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski and Engisch met seven years ago when Engisch married Ostrowski’s brother’s best friend, Rudy. “We’ve been like sisters ever since,” Engisch said.
Ostrowski, a native of Brainerd, moved to Rockford, Ill., a little over two years ago and returned to the area with her husband, Mark, last June.
Ostrowski said she got the idea to start a cupcake business while she was living in Rockford. “I really feel like God just put it in my head,” she said. “God made me to create.”
Ostrowski, who has always loved to bake, said she made cupcakes for a friend’s bridal shower and realized she might have a winning idea. “They couldn’t stop eating them,” she said. “People kept telling me I need to sell these.”
Ostrowski said she started developing different ideas for unique cupcake flavors, moving away from the standard white or chocolate. There were pineapple upside down cupcake, chai latte, cookies and cream, triple chocolate decadence. The possibilities are endless.
Upon moving back to Brainerd, Ostrowski and had a meeting with destiny at the grocery store. “By chance, I heard a voice that sounded so familiar,” she said. “It was Marissa.”
As the two caught up they learned about their other shared passion — making cakes. “She said, ‘You have to see these cakes I make,’” Ostrowski remembered.
The conversation led to the inception of a dream. Honeybee Cupcakes.
“Melissa means Honeybee,” Ostrowski explained. “It seems like a good fit.”
“Marissa means ‘Queen of the Sea,’” laughed Engisch about why her name wouldn’t work. “I don’t even like the water.”
The pair is working on how to make their dream a reality. They still have unique passions and, of course, their jobs and families. Engisch, who is a mother of two, spends three days a week doing hair at Salon Couture in Pequot Lakes. Ostrowski is cleaning cabins and baking cupcakes for weddings, business functions, and family gatherings.
“We’ve got to figure out what we need,” Ostrowski said. “The hard thing is it’s hard to find a commercial kitchen to bake in.”
More than just baking cupcakes for cash, Ostrowski and Engisch share the desire to make their work, no matter what it is, count. “I hate how customer service is,” Ostrowski said. “You’re nice to people to make money, and not just being kind because you’re genuinely helping people.”
Ostrowski and Engisch want Honeybee Cupcakes to be a social venture. They plan to make the business one that gives back to a cause that matters. Particularly, human trafficking. “If people are aware of it, they have to do something,” Ostrowski said.
“They aren’t just getting a cupcake,” Engisch added.
Ostrowski and Engisch have a shared passion for women and children affected by exploitation in the U.S. and overseas. “We want that to be the main thing,” Ostrowski said. “We want people to know when they buy a cupcake, where the money goes.”
The two have visions or cupcakes representing various regions around the world and providing customers with information about trafficking in those regions. “We’ve both traveled and seen first hand,” Ostrowski said. “Sexual abuse is something very close to both of our hearts.”
In addition to cupcakes with a conscience, Ostrowski and Engisch hope the business will be unique in the flavors of cupcakes and ambiance their store will offer. “It would be an experience for people to come into the shop,” Ostrowski said. “We want people to come in and feel light.”
Ostrowski envisions Honeybee to have a vintage feel. A business that is always creating. An environment that is family friendly. For now they are content making cupcakes for people they love, and others who just love what they do. For now the dream continues, but as things slowly align into place Engisch said, “You never know what could happen.”
SARAH NELSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.