Kawaii Sweet World Hits the Sweet Spot

Photo: Courtesy Rachel Fong

Rachel Fong has developed an unusual way to engage both her right and left brain. A budding computer science major whose courses include calculus and mechanical engineering, the Stanford freshman is also a master mini-baker. Her tiny original creations — think unicorn cake and mermaid donuts — have won her more than 1.2 million followers on her YouTube channel, Kawaii Sweet World. (Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese.)

Fong produces, videotapes and promotes her channel while also working on her first cookbook for Clarkson Potter, a subsidiary of Crown Publishing. Every weekend, she travels home to Oakland to film in her self-funded basement studio, where the walls are painted her trademark seafoam green.

“I’m living my dream,” says Fong, who runs on “enthusiasm and coffee.” Her YouTube fame gives her a chance to be a role model to youngsters, as well as a social media influencer, which she says is her favorite part of the job. While her fan base ranges from kindergartners to parents, the sweet spot is 18- to 24-year-old women.

In spite of being immersed in buttercream and sprinkles every time she bakes, Fong doesn’t tire of confections.

“Even after making 85 recipes for the cookbook,” she says, “I still love dessert.”

Melinda Sacks, ’74, is a senior writer at Stanford.