Sarah Lim of OMG! Squee brings kawaii to Austin with her Japanese sweets.
by Katya Bandouil, Photos by Sarah Lim
Sarah Lim’s signature macarons are vibrant and meticulous in design, each more Instagrammable than the last. From photojournalism to her recent pastry endeavors, Lim’s colorful and highly conceptualized artistry is distinguishable in all of her crafts.
“If you ever look at my photo work, I think it makes sense,” Lim says. “I like color and a lot of fun things and it came out of my art background.”
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin and completing a photojournalism internship at the Detroit Free Press, Lim began her career as an editorial and commercial photographer. When freelancing alone wasn’t sufficient, Lim turned to Japanese sweets to express her creativity.
Originally from Dallas, Lim is inspired by her Texan and Asian American background when creating her unique flavors and designs for her macarons, Japanese cheesecake and ice cream. She also draws inspiration from her childhood experiences and her fascination with food science.
“I was kind of a nerdy kid,” Lim remembers. “I would basically watch anime and cooking shows on TV and that’s about all I would do.”
Shifting from the cooking shows of her childhood to online tutorial videos, Lim relied on trial and error to learn how to bake the treats at home. Lim describes her work as kawaii, a Japanese term for cute, and her designs range from Japanese cartoon characters to corgis to Lizzo. Seeing her realistic depictions, it’s hard to believe she learned to hand-pipe macarons only three years ago.
“I failed a lot at first, then I got lucky and sometimes would have a good batch and then the next batch could be terrible,” Lim recalls. “Eventually just by practicing and trying a lot of different things, I figured out how to make them.”
After sharing her homemade creations with friends, Lim debuted her macarons at a few local farmers markets. She was then able to save enough to open a permanent storefront, OMG Squee, with her business partner Michael DeAnda, offering Austinites and tourists access to Japenese sweets.
“I definitely feel more understanding and love from the Asian American community,” Lim says. “They see it hasn’t been fully represented in Austin before.”
Lim values her relationship with her customers and the Austin community. She enjoys interacting with them on Instagram, and hosting giveaways. In April, she hosted a giveaway in honor of essential workers.
“Several people follow us from our very first market, which is kind of awesome,” Lim says. “We kind of think of our products [as]having their own life after they leave here and go on to new adventures. It’s fun for us to see where our stuff goes and people enjoying it.”