How To Make Stickers Using Cricut Explore Air 2 + Canva

You don’t need to be a pro artist to make cute stickers for your bullet journal. Even if you can’t draw, you can use simple graphic design to make stickers. Personally, I make stickers for personal use and sale in Canva. I have the Pro version, but you can also use the free version!

In this blog post, I’ll be covering how to make sticker sheets and flakes using the Cricut Explore Air 2. I can’t speak to other types of Cricut machines, since I don’t own them, but I know the steps are very similar to those for the Explore Air 2 in terms of software and settings.

Many sticker artists prefer the Silhouette Cameo to the Cricut Explore. However, I love my Cricut Explore because of its precision cutting and easy-to-use design software! It’s up to you which one you prefer, but this tutorial will exclusively cover making stickers with the Cricut Explore Air 2.

Canva Copyright Rules

First thing’s first: let’s talk about the boring legal stuff. Namely, when you’re using graphic design software like Canva that uses clipart, you need to be aware of what the legal uses are for that art.

With Canva, you are granted a one design use license every time you download an image file. With a free account, you will need to pay for a separate license for any Pro media used in each design when you download. However, if you pay $15 per month for a Pro account, you can use Pro media as much as you want without any additional charges.

Legally, you can create and even sell artwork featuring Canva stock designs! This includes stickers and sticker sheets. But, you must alter the clipart in some way for the sale of the images to be legal. The way I interpret this is that you can combine clipart and/or text to create stickers, but you can’t just copy and paste their clipart into your sticker sheet.

The one thing you can’t do with Canva is create templates. So, you can’t sell a “sticker-making template” in Canva, for example, for users to create their own sticker sheets. You can only create your own stickers and sticker sheets for use.

Designing Bullet Journal Stickers In Canva

You can design bullet journal stickers in Canva to make for yourself or even to sell! I like to create stickers with a central theme for creating spreads. However, you can make stickers however you see fit! Here’s how.

Canva is a free design software that can be accessed online at canva.com. You’ll just need an account, either free or Pro, to save your designs. Once you log in, you’ll need to create a canvas in the size you want your stickers or sticker sheets to be. Personally, I like standardized sizes, so I make all my sticker sheets 4″x6″.

With the canvas, you can play around to make cute stickers however you want. You can combine text with cute backgrounds to make functional stickers, or make decorative stickers using shapes and clipart. Experimentation is the best way to decide your personal style and what you like.

The most important feature for creating stickers in Canva is the Elements tab. Elements is where you’ll find shapes, frames (for images) and clipart. Some cute ways to make stickers include adding images to frames (i.e. a heart-shaped image), or adding clipart to shapes (i.e. circles with symbols, numbers, or letters inside). Other helpful elements include Text and Photos.

Above all else, the most important step for creating stickers in Canva is to save them correctly. Once you have your sticker or sticker sheet laid out the way you want it, you need to save it as a .png file. You can do this by clicking “Download” and making sure the file type is listed as “.Png.”

You’ll also want to make sure you click the checkbox next to “Transparent Background” when you export. This ensures you get stickers that are cut to the border, instead of getting one big white box, when you print and cut in Cricut.

Making Sticker Flakes With The Cricut Explore Air 2

Making sticker flakes, also known as die cut stickers, with the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the easiest way to make stickers. This is because you don’t need to deal with creating a separate background for the sticker sheets or worry about the stickers fitting on your sheet.

At this point, you should have already exported your sticker as a .png with a transparent background from Canva. The next step is to open the Cricut Design Space program in your computer. (This is the free program that comes with your Cricut. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, there are directions in the box for downloading Design Space and setting it up properly. Follow those and you’ll be just fine!)

Once you’ve opened Design Space, create a new project and give it a name. Go to “Upload” and select the file for your first sticker. Once it’s uploaded, you’ll need to choose a complexity level. Most people recommend choosing the highest level of complexity, called “Complex,” to ensure no little details are missed. You’ll also want to make sure you select it as a “Print Then Cut” file

After these steps, you can add the stickers to the canvas and resize them (if needed). Repeat these steps for as many stickers as you want to cut right now. Then, when you’re ready to print and cut, click the “Make It” button at the upper right-hand corner of your Design Space application.

This is the part where you’ll want to set up your printer and Cricut Explore Air 2. You can use Bluetooth to connect to the Cricut machine, but I usually use my USB cable (I’ve had wonky connections to Bluetooth in the past). Verify the preview looks the way you want it and then click “Continue.”

Usually, I print using the System Dialog so I can change the printer settings if need be (for example, to switch paper types or select higher-quality printing). You’ll also want to make sure that the “Add Bleed” button is set to green. This way, Cricut will add wiggle room for printing.

After printing, hit the “Open” button on the Cricut and set the dial on your Cricut Explore Air 2 to “Cardstock” so that it will cut all the way through the sticker paper. (Other Cricut models may have different settings.) You can then move on to setting up your mat! Align the sticker paper with the guides on the mat so that it’s in the top-left corner. Then, feed it into the Cricut and hit the “Load” button (the one with the double-arrow). It should be flashing.

After the paper loads, the C-shaped “Start” button will start flashing. Hit that and watch as the Cricut goes through the magical cutting process! When it’s done, the double-arrowed “Load” button will start flashing again. Hit it to unload your mat. Carefully, you can then use tools or your fingers to peel your sticker flakes off the sticky mat.

And voila! You’ve got die-cut stickers for your bullet journal.

Making Sticker Sheets With The Cricut Explore Air 2

Now, let’s talk about how to make sticker sheets, or kiss-cut stickers. This is a little more advanced, so stick with me! Most of the steps are the same, so I will only go over the ones that are different.

The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you make a background for your sticker sheet. I usually make mine 4″x6″. If you’re selling your sticker sheets, I recommend adding your logo and a product number to the top of the sheet. IMPORTANT: Do not download the background as a transparent file!

Then, resize your sticker sheet so it’s small enough to fit on the sheet below the logo. You will want to download this sheet as a transparent .png. Upload both these files to a new project in the Cricut Design Space application. Make sure you add the background layer to the canvas first and size it the way you want before layering the sticker sheet layer over it.

The next step is the most important to make sure your file is cut correctly! Select BOTH the background and the stickers at the same time, and in the right-hand panel, click the “Attach” button. You do NOT need to group the layers — just click “Attach!” That will make sure your sticker sheet is cut the right way.

After that crucial step, follow all the same steps for printing and cutting your Cricut project, except make sure you set the dial to “Vinyl” instead of “Cardstock.” This ensures the Cricut doesn’t cut all the way through the paper, giving you kiss-cut instead of die-cut stickers.

Your Cricut may not cut all the way through your sticker paper around the border of the sticker sheet, so you’ll need to follow the guidelines with scissors or an X-Acto knife. If you’re interested in playing around with your Cricut, I’m told you can also try copying the background four or five times to get it to cut through the paper. However, I’ve never tried this personally, so I can’t give guidance on how well that works.

Tips For Making Stickers With A Cricut

  1. Store your mats in the plastic they came in. The Cricut mats are designed to have a light sticky coating so your material will adhere to it. Unfortunately, other things — like pet hair and dirt — will also stick. Over time this can make the mats dirty and keep material from sticking, so make sure to store your mats in the plastic they came in (or another safe place) to keep them clean and sticky.
  2. Do a test cut before mass printing stickers or sticker sheets. Planning to print dozens of stickers or sticker sheets to sell on Etsy? Do a test “Print Then Cut” on plain paper first to ensure your settings are correct and there are no mis-cuts. In my experience, it’s much better to learn that you messed up before you use 20 sheets of expensive sticker paper!
  3. Don’t buy the Cricut sticker paper. First of all, the Cricut-brand sticker paper is overpriced — you can get the exact same thing for much less money on Amazon! Secondly, it’s not good for kiss-cut stickers. This is because the paper is cardstock-thickness, so it won’t cut the way you expect on the Vinyl setting. For bullet journal sticker sheets, I prefer a thinner sticker paper like the Avery or Koala brands.
  4. Print and cut one piece of paper at a time. I will be the first to admit that this is a HUGE pain when you’re looking to make, say, 50 sticker sheets at once! But, printing and cutting a single piece of paper at a time minimizes the number of errors made by the Cricut machine. For this reason, if you can fit two or more sticker sheets on a single piece of paper, I highly recommend doing so. This means you can make multiple sheets at a time instead of just one.
  5. If you’re selling stickers, save the mess-ups! Last but not least, don’t waste your fancy sticker paper by throwing away mis-cut or mis-print sticker sheets. If they are for personal use, then fine — but if you are looking to turn a profit off selling sticker sheets, I highly recommend saving them and selling them at a discount as “Oops!” stickers instead. This reduces the amount of waste and maximizes the profit made by your sticker business.

How to Start Collecting Stickers | How I Organize My Sticker Collection

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission from any purchases made through my blog. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my blog!

If you were born in the 90s like I was, then glittery, rainbow-colored stickers were probably a major part of your childhood. I never had a sticker album as a kid, but I remember begging my mom to buy me Lisa Frank stationery. Even then, I was hooked!

As an adult, my stationery collection only continues to grow. Thanks to my addiction, I often find myself with more stickers than I know what to do with. I am always looking for cute and unique ways to make use of my massive collection. That’s how I started my first sticker album.

In the 80s and 90s, it was popular for kids to collect stickers. They would put them on three-hole paper and stick them in a binder to admire later. Inspired by this trend, and by some vintage Mrs. Grossman’s scrapbook stickers I was gifted by my grandma, I decided to start my own modern sticker collection.

If you, like me, have a growing stash of stickers that you don’t know what to do with, but that you just love to look at, then you’ve come to the right place. Starting a sticker collection might just be the perfect way to engage your inner sticker fiend.

How to Organize Your Sticker Collection

The first thing you need to decide when starting a sticker collection is how you are going to organize it. In my opinion, it’s easier to do this before you start accumulating stickers — but it never hurts to use what you already have, if you’ve already been amassing a collection.

There are a few ways you could organize your sticker collection. Some people choose to use a binder with page protectors. The way I see it, this works best if you are planning to collect sticker flakes or leave your stickers on the sheet.

If you want to peel and stick your sticker collection (which is half the fun, if we’re being honest here), I would recommend using a six-ring binder like I do. Six-ring binders are popular in Korea. They are miniature binders — mine is A5 size — that hold six-ring paper. I bought mine on Amazon for $8 and a stack of 100 sheets of paper for $10.

So, to stick or not to stick? Personally, I stick my stickers directly on the page. But, I think it’s important to note that if you’re going to collect vintage stickers, they aren’t quite as sticky and might fall off. I learned this the hard way and decided to stick the sheets I received from my grandma in the front pocket on the inside cover of my six-ring binder.

For whole sheets, you can buy specially designed sticker albums with protectors that are perfectly sized for your sticker sheets. Or, if you’re looking for an alternative method, you could stick whole sticker sheets in an accordian folder and organize them by years, styles, brands, or anything else you like. You could even use a binder with pocket dividers to house your collection.

Ultimately, it’s up to you how you choose to organize your sticker collection — just make it sustainable, and make it personal to you.

Where to Buy Stickers for Your Collection

The next step in starting a sticker collection is actually growing your collection. Where to buy stickers for your collection depends largely on your goals as a collector:

If your goal is to collect rare and vintage finds, I recommend a few options. Firstly, Etsy is a great place to find vintage stickers. They have a vintage tag that you can use to search for brands like Mrs. Grossman’s and Sandylion. Pipsticks also sells Mrs. Grossman’s and Sandylion stickers, including vintage. Lastly, you should always check local thrift and consignment stores for interesting stationery finds. Often, you can discover hidden treasures on the cheap!

If your goal is volume, then you’re going to want to go for cheap stickers so you can easily amass a large collection. Aliexpress is a great place to buy Japanese and Korean stickers. But, if shimmery rainbow stickers are more your thing, you can buy entire books of kids’ stickers for under $5 at places like Amazon and Target. I’m also a fan of the brand Stick-O, which you can get at craft stores: they have cute animal motifs as well as foiled options for collecting.

Are you specifically a fan of vinyl stickers, and perhaps want to collect stickers related to a certain brand or fandom? Try sites like Redbubble and Etsy for stickers made by independent artists, or check out pop culture shops like Hot Topic for merchandise from your favorite fandom.

Stickers to Get You Started

Sticker books are your best friend when starting a brand-new sticker collection. This is a fast way to grow your collection, without shelling out a ton of cash. Here are some of my picks:

Remember Scratch ‘n’ Sniff? Ooly still makes those! These kawaii cat cafe scratch stickers are scented like chocolate. Get them on Amazon for $9.

Trends International Hello Kitty, Multicolor

Love kawaii? For $4, this book of 120 Hello Kitty stickers could be all yours. Jump start your collection today — get them on Amazon.

If you want to really throw it back to the 90s, you can get a book full of over 600 Lisa Frank stickers. Yes, they still make those! Get it on Amazon for $5.

How to Get Started with Penpals

Ever wished that you could still travel the world while stuck in quarantine? Having a pen pal is exactly like that! You can make a friend from a foreign country you’ve never visited and learn more about their language and culture, all while exchanging stationery, candy, and little trinkets from your homelands. What more could you possibly want?

When I was in elementary school, my school partnered with another school in China to write pen pal letters to kids our age. Some kids managed to stay in touch with their Chinese pen pals for a few months, but mine only wrote to me once. Ever since then, I have always wanted a penpal, but never knew how to find them.

As it turns out, pen pal letters are becoming a “thing” in the bullet journaling community! You may have noticed the growing popularity of pen pals if you watch journaling Youtubers like milkcloud or Rainbowholic TV. More and more, people in the bullet journaling community are connecting to exchange aesthetic snail mail with each other from all over the globe.

I joined my first pen pal site at the beginning of quarantine back in March and kind of forgot about it. I only picked it back up recently — and now, I’ve met my first pen pals from India and Hawaii. Since I’ve decided to share more of my creative endeavors on the blog, I thought it would be fun to teach you all how I got started with pen pals.

Let’s get started 🙂

How to Find a Penpal Online

There are two major sites that people use to meet others in the penpal community: Global Penfriends and Penpal World. Both are safe and reputable, but here is my opinion on each.

Global Penfriends

Of the two sites, Global Penfriends is my preferred choice. I have used it longer, so I trust it more, but I also find that users are more active on Global Penfriends than they are on Penpal World.

Global Penfriends limits the number of contact credits to one every twelve hours, meaning you can only send two messages per day (and that’s assuming you’re awake 24 hours a day!). Otherwise, you have to pay for a premium subscription. (I don’t know if others are having this problem, but the Paypal page to sign up for the premium subscription has yet to work for me so far.) Some profiles are also restricted to premium members only. I haven’t figured out exactly how or why this works, but I’ll occasionally get blocked from sending someone a message because I’m not a VIP.

The rest of the time, you’re allowed to send something called a “smile.” It’s a little like “poking” someone on Facebook: it lets the person know that you’re interested in talking to them, even though you’re out of credits for the day. You can send as many smiles as you want. I highly recommend taking advantage of this feature because if someone wants to meet you, they may send you a message first!

You can also purchase a pack of what’s called “Snail Mail Credits” for $18. You get 10 credits, which basically equals 10 addresses. Initially, I purchased Snail Mail Credits back in March and got about eight addresses. However, I never wrote to those people. I don’t know about you, but I find it a little awkward to start a penpal conversation without talking to someone online first. Instead, I waited until I messaged someone a few times and felt comfortable exchanging addresses.

Penpal World

I am not the biggest fan of Penpal World for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the structure of the website is not as sophisticated as Global Penfriends. Global Penfriends lets you filter your search results by country, age, gender, and region. You can’t filter your search results by country or region on Penpal World; you can only block certain countries from contacting you (for example, if you don’t want to meet people from your home country).

Secondly, the filters for who you do and don’t want to contact you work better on Penpal World. For safety reasons, I decided to block males from contacting me and only get in touch with other females. I’m in a relationship and didn’t want creepy guys sending me messages! But because Penpal World lets you leave comments on other people’s profiles, guys have still been trying to contact me. They haven’t said anything weird or dangerous, but I have found it annoying that I am not getting contacted by the people I want to contact me. (In general, I’ve also found that there are fewer guys on Global Penfriends, period.)

Something that makes Penpal World better, however, is that you get three contact credits per day, to be used at any time of day (which means you don’t end up losing one, as with Global Penfriends, if you’re not awake!). Another thing that is nice about Penpal World is that a lot of people who want to contact you will actually give you their email address instead of going through the website. (If you’re worried about sharing emails, you could always make a second email account for penpals only.) This eliminates the need for the whole credits thing altogether. So, you are much less likely to need a VIP subscription to Penpal World than Global Penfriends!

What to Write in Your First Letter

So, you’ve landed yourself a pen pal. You have a lot in common, you have their address, and you’re ready to start writing! But, now what? Knowing where to start can be one of the hardest parts of writing an old-fashioned snail mail letter. Obviously, you’ll want to write “Dear [Name],” but what should come after that?

I’m not very good at starting a conversation in-person, but as a professional writer, I find it easier to express myself on paper. So, as a pro, here’s my advice: the reality is that there’s no “right way” to start a pen pal letter, or any piece of writing really. The best thing to do is sometimes just to get started and see where it goes.

As a pen pal, most people will not hold it against you if the only thing you have to write about is what you ate for breakfast. In fact, if you’re from a different culture than me, those details can be really interesting! And even if you’re from the same country, I’m still nosy 😉 The mundane parts of life tell you a lot about a person and help you get to know them — it’s why authors spend so much time describing seemingly useless details about characters in a book. It makes you like them!

Still, there is one trick to writing a good pen pal letter: ask questions! As much as I want to learn about you, I also want to know that you’re interested in learning about me, too. We all love to be asked about ourselves, whether we will admit it or not. The questions we’re asked aren’t always the easiest to answer (I mean, picking a favorite book?! Who does that?!) but they DO help you get to know a person better. When learning more about a new friend from afar, it’s even more important to pick up on those little details.

Some people even include a separate list of questions in their letters for their pen pal to answer. The pen pal sends the answers back, along with a new list of questions — and so it continues! This is a great way to make a letter more interesting and get to know a person better. Plus, it gives you yet another piece of paper to decorate 🙂

So, what kinds of questions should you ask your pen pal? Those get-to-know-you icebreaker questions from college will finally come in handy! But, if you’re stuck, here are some ideas:

  • What is your favorite color/food/book/movie/animal/etc.?
  • If your house was on fire and you could only save one thing, what would you save?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • What is your happiest childhood memory?
  • What holidays do you celebrate in your culture? Which traditions are your favorite?
  • What are you looking forward to?
  • If your pen pal speaks a language with a different alphabet: how would you write my name in your language?

Happy Mail Essentials

You don’t need to be a DIY expert to create an aesthetically pleasing pen pal letter — you just need the right supplies. Here are some stationery essentials to stock up on for your new pen pal obsession…because once you try it once, you’re going to be obsessed!

Letter Paper

If you’re going to be writing letters regularly, you’re going to want high-quality letter-writing paper. Personally, I use blank 11×8.5 in. printer paper for my letters that I’ve folded and cut in half. I like this option because it allows me to customize it with as much washi tape, stickers, and stamps as I want! However, if you’re looking for letter paper that’s already decorative, Jet Pens is a great place to shop. The Midori Volume Washi Letter Pad ($10) is designed to look like a bamboo mat that’s been washed over with watercolor, giving it a pretty finish that’s still basic enough to be decorated.

Midori Volume Washi Letter Pad - Mountain Range - MIDORI 20433006

Envelopes

Colorful envelopes are a staple in any pen pal’s stationery collection. You want them to be aesthetically pleasing, but not too busy that you can’t adorn them with calligraphy, washi tape, stickers, and everything in-between. For that reason, I like shopping for envelopes at Paper Source’s paper bar. Their envelopes come in a variety of colors and sizes to spruce up your snail mail. One of my favorite choices is their A2 Mint Envelopes (pack of 10 for $4).

Stamps

Obviously, you’ll need USPS stamps to send happy mail anywhere in the world — but you may also want some rubber stamps to help decorate your letters and envelopes! One of my mom’s hobbies happens to be rubber stamp-carving (true story), so I rarely spend money on my stamp collection. But, if you’re not lucky enough to be hooked-up by Mom, traditional craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann are great places to find rubber stamps for decorating letter paper and envelopes — like this Happy Mail stamp ($4).

American Crafts Wooden Stamp Happy Mail

Mildliners

Zebra Mildliners are a must-have for anyone interested in journaling or pen pals. If you keep a bullet journal, chances are that you already have a pile of these laying around somewhere that can be repurposed. But if not, it’s time to get your hands on a pack of Mildliners, which are perfect for adding color to your letters and envelopes, without bleeding through or compromising readability. I got mine at Target once upon a time ago, but the same pack is available for cheaper at Wal-mart right now ($14).

Stickers

Of course, you don’t want to forget the stickers when you are shopping for pen pal essentials! Whether you don’t like to draw your own designs or simply love collecting cute stationery like I do, stickers are a must-have for all of your kawaii crafting activities. Etsy is, by far, my favorite place to find adorable stickers — and support small artists while doing it! Search “pen pal stickers” and you’ll see just how much variety is available. However, this time I’m choosing the Happy Sticker Sheet from Betterday Boutique ($3).

Happy Sticker Sheet Planner Sticker Rainbow Sticker Journal image 5

Washi Tape

Last but not least, pen pal letters are the perfect excuse to add to your washi tape collection. You can use a strip of decorative washi for everything, from sealing your envelope in style to adorning the edges of your pen pal letter. There are so many wonderful places to buy washi on the web, but Scrapbook.com carries this adorable Magical Forest themed pack, which comes with eight types of washi at an affordable price ($10). You really can’t get better than that!

Crate Paper - Magical Forest Collection - Washi Tape with Foil Accents

Extras to Include with Your Letter

Everyone loves surprise presents — which is why I always like to include extras from my stationery collection in my pen pal letters. But extras don’t need to be stationery necessarily: they could also be candy, tea, or anything else you can get in your home country that they may not be able to get in theirs.

Anything you include in your letter as an extra should fit in the envelope without the need for extra postage. Just remember that extras are exactly that…. extra! Not everyone has the means to include extras in their letters, so keep your expectations low when it comes to receiving — and if you can, be generous when it comes to giving them. Here are some ideas for extras to get you started:

  • Sticker flakes
  • Washi samples
  • Individual memo sheets
  • Fun-sized candy (don’t forget to check for allergies first!)
  • Tea bags
  • Chewing gum
  • Friendship bracelets
  • Bookmarks
  • Keychains
  • Hair accessories
  • Low-value coins, if you use different currency from your pen pal
  • Stamps, if your pal collects them
  • Paper confetti

YouTubers to Watch for Inspiration

So, are you ready to get started writing your first pen pal letter yet? If you’re not sure where to begin, I find that a helpful place to start is to pop a Youtube video on my television, pile my stationery in front of me, and see where the inspiration takes me! Or, if you’re still skeptcical, you can watch a video to learn more about what having a pen pal is really like. Below, I’ll link to some of my favorite Pen Pal with Me videos on Youtube so you can check out what all the fuss is about before you get started with pen pals for yourself:

There are so many pel pal videos on Youtube to choose from — just search “pen pal with me” and you’ll see what I mean! — but I hope you enjoyed getting to know some of my favorites 🙂

Where to Buy Cute Stationery on AliExpress

Before I started a side blog dedicated to my book and stationery finds, I made a little post titled “Where to Find Cute Stationery Online.” Fast forward and that post is now one of the most popular things I’ve written on my blog!

Since I wrote my original post, I’ve actually started shopping for most of my stationery on AliExpress. It’s a Chinese e-commerce platform that’s a little like Amazon, in that its owner is crazy-rich — and you can find just about anything on there. Unlike Amazon, however, it’s more like Etsy, in that users create their own storefronts to sell products at wholesale prices.

Shopping for stationery on AliExpress beats shopping for stationery in the U.S. hands-down, mainly because of the affordability. You can find many of the same items that are available on sites like Blippo Kawaii Shop at one-third of the price. There are also enormous shipping discounts. Of course, one of the downsides to shopping on AliExpress is that it takes forever for your orders to arrive — but when they do, it’s oh-so worth it.

Whether you are a bullet journaler, penpaler, or general stationery enthusiast, AliExpress needs to be on your radar. Specifically, these storefronts on AliExpress should be your first stop when it comes to shopping for stationery online.

Tips for Shopping on AliExpress

Initially, I was hesitant to spend my money on AliExpress. Because the products come so far, and often don’t have tracking numbers, I worried about never receiving my orders — or not receiving them before the shipping protection expired. I’d also heard horror stories about AliExpress customer service. However, I’ve since learned that shopping on AliExpress can be a positive experience, as long as you keep a few tips in mind:

  • Look at the store ratings. AliExpress gives each store a percent rating based on reviews of customer service, shipping, product descriptions (i.e. whether the product received is as expected), and other important qualifications. The higher the rating, the more likely you are to have a positive experience shopping at that store. For the best experience, I recommend shopping only at stores that have at least a rating of 90 percent.
  • Pay attention to the Buyer Protection period. Purchases on AliExpress come with Buyer Protection, which ensures a full refund within 15 days if you don’t receive your order within the time period specified by the seller. Furthermore, you can get a full refund if you return the product or a partial refund if you keep the product should the product you receive differ from what the seller described. However, Buyer Protection on AliExpress is not an indefinite thing. Like a warranty, it’s subject to expire — in this case, after 15 days. It’s important to make note of the day the Buyer Protection period expires, because if you miss your opportunity to report missing items by the date, you won’t be able to get your money back.
  • Know how to open a dispute. Unfortunately, opening a dispute on AliExpress is not as simple as it is on Amazon or other websites. If you have a complaint before or after the 15-day period after the product’s estimated arrival, your only option is to contact the seller directly. During the 15-day period, you can file a dispute ticket through AliExpress. However, you will participate in a formal dispute process first with the seller. If you aren’t satisfied with the seller’s response, you may then contact AliExpress — but if you miss the 15-day window and are dissatisfied with the seller’s response, you are, sadly, out of options. That’s why it’s so important to shop only from reputable sellers with good ratings and reputations for good customer service.
  • Read the fine print. Sometimes, pictures show a product at a price that’s too good to be true — and if it’s “too good to be true,” well, it probably isn’t. Always read the fine print, which can be weaponized against you in the dispute process if you don’t take note of it. A picture can have you expecting a set of twenty pens for $1, when the fine print states that you’ll only be receiving two. If you receive your two pens expecting 20 and decide to file a dispute, the merchant can refuse to grant you a refund or allow you to return the item, citing the description to show that you should have known what you were getting.

Best Stationery Stores on AliExpress

JIANWU Store

If you are plugged into the bullet journaling community on YouTube, you’ve probably already heard of JIANWU Store. It’s a favorite for its sleek, minimalist designs, fast shipping, and customer service.

Best for: Sticky notes and plain dot stickers.

Discounts: $1 off your purchase of $15, and free shipping at $15.

My pick: Color Combination Sticker Pack ($1.64)

Mohamm Store

Of all the stationery stores on AliExpress, Mohamm Store might be my favorite. My order from Mohamm Store arrived within three weeks, which was much faster than the anticipated window. It’s a great place to find stationery in general, but especially stationery from Korean brands.

Best for: Washi tape and Korean stickers.

Discounts: $1 off your purchase of $17.

My pick: Korean Bear Stickers ($0.98)

Pink Stationery Store

Pink Stationery Store is my pick for all the vintage-lovers out there. However, while most of their products evoke a vintage vibe, if you look closely, you’ll find some kawaii products, too. I even found Hello Kitty washi tape when scouring the selection here the other day!

Best for: Stamps, vintage paper, and ephemera.

Discounts: N/A.

My pick: Retro Antique Paper ($3.25)

Stationery Retail Store

If you are a pen addict, you will love Stationery Retail Store. They are the place to go if you are looking to replenish your collection of cute pens and pencils. Here, you can find amazing deals on mechanical pencils, erasable pens, and fountain pens. Stationery Retail Store also stocks some kawaii character items, too.

Best for: Pens, pencils, and kawaii stationery.

Discounts: N/A.

My pick: Cute Cherry Pens ($0.70)

House of Novelty

Last but not least, House of Novelty is an AliExpress favorite among the stationery community — especially if you are a fan of cute characters like Rilakkuma, Summiko Gurashi, and the Sanrio fam. They’re also one of the only destinations that’s still selling limited-edition items from the Japanese sakura season, which sparks a wave of cherry blossom-themed stationery every spring.

Best for: Character stationery, especially stickers.

Discounts: Free shipping at $30.

My pick: Corocoro Coronya Stickers ($1.02)

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