asking for trouble

Trouble Awards – Best of 2018

I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the highs (and lows) of running Asking For Trouble this year so I’m giving out awards.

The Super Cute Book of Kawaii

Biggest Achievements

The biggest was undoubtably finishing my book, even though that technically happened 3 times (manuscript deadline, print deadline, new publication date print deadline). I didn’t even get to celebrate that much as it was all a big secret. I’m looking forward to sharing a lot more next year.

I’m also proud of Super Cute Kawaii’s 10 year anniversary and, of course, completing my 100 Day Project.

Favourite new products

I couldn’t think of much when I started making notes for this but a quick look back and I have so many favourites. I’ll restrict myself to four.

  • The wooden bumblebees on sticks I created with my dad haven’t been super popular but I love them so much.
  • Designing washi tape has long been a dream and I’m so happy with how they turned out.
  • Deciding not to make any more enamel pins was a little terrifying, but thankfully you all loved my wooden pins as much as I did.
  • After the huge task of writing a book, it was really enjoyable to make a short illustrated zine about My Japan Favourites.
100 Day Project

Most surprising fails

It’s always pretty gutting when you spend a long time on something you think everyone will love and it just doesn’t sell.

Despite all the enthusiasm about my 100 Day Project, only a handful of people gave something back by picking up the mini book I created with all the characters. The matching surprise boxes also still haven’t quite sold out 3 months later, though at least the people who have bought them have loved them. 

Best business purchase

I love my storage boxes for polymer stamps. Each tiny box holds 10 stamps and there’s enough for all my current designs. It’s so much easier to pick for orders and see what’s running low. 

kawaii cloud keyrings

Best customer suggestion

No offence, but customer/follower suggestions are often clueless at best, not understanding how much time and money goes into creating a new product. All praise to the customer who asked if I could make my cloud brooches into keyrings. I couldn’t think of a reason not to and they turned out really well and became one of my most successful products this year. 

wrapping paper

Most hated tasks

Forever number one: waiting in line at the post office. Luckily, I only have to do this for wholesale orders, tubes and tracked/signed packages, (which is why I don’t encourage the latter two). I was able to bring all my mail straight to the delivery office over Christmas and it was so good I might have to try and change my shipping cut offs so I can do this the rest of the year too.

Also tedious: gluing fridge magnets together and everything to do with storing, picking and folding wrapping paper.

shipping boxes

Biggest changes

Looking back I made a lot of huge decisions this year. My biggest was making efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging I use. In a few short months, I changed over to mainly using cardboard boxes, tissue paper and paper bags instead of bubble mailers, bubble wrap and cello bags. I started out offering a choice but the response was so overwhelmingly for recyclable options that I’m making plastic a special request.

The other big change was my Patreon. I became so tired of no-one seeing my social media posts due to algorithms and people expecting everything for free. Now I create things for my patrons, who are willing to pay a little bit of money each month to help me keep writing and designing. And let’s not forget my new logo – I still love it!

plan your Japan trip

Best blog series

I spend A LOT of time writing blog posts, even though I know that very few people read blogs any more. I do it for myself and so I can point people there when they have questions about Japan, selling on-demand etc.

My favourite series of posts was definitely Plan Your Japan Trip as I got to write about so many practical areas of trip planning like budgeting, flights, hotels and traveling solo.

I also had a lot of fun looking back at 11 years of blogging each month and sharing batches of 100 Day Project characters.

Weirdest Experience

One of my Twitter followers spotted what looked VERY MUCH like my Lucky Clover card as a collectible item in a PS4 Spider-Man game. Same colours, same font (a commercially licensed font btw!), similar clover. Best of all, the back of the card was exactly the same as mine, even though I had never shared that online so they must have seen the real card. It was too bizarre and hilarious to be mad about really.

Thanks for following along this year – hope you had some favourites too.


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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