Sarah Klein was the kid in high school whom other kids asked to design their campaign posters for student government. She was the kid who loved group projects, especially if she could be the one to make the poster.
The South Carolina native says, "I always enjoyed doodling in art."
While in college at Clemson University as a graphics communications major, she would have group projects to produce something. One of those things included running a printing press.
Klein, 30, who says she was never good at doing standard calligraphy, started using a hand lettering technique that mimicks calligraphy by making thicker down-strokes.
She founded Chalkfulloflove, a business that puts hand lettered messages on everything from mugs to pillowcases. She also has passed along her technique to others through two books for adults: "Hand Lettering 101 Workbook" and "Hand Lettering 201 Workbook."
She also just launched a book for kids: "Learn to Letter With Luna the Llama," which is also a workbook, but you get to follow Luna the Llama and other animals through the exercises.
A few years before Chalkfulloflove became a thing, Klein moved to Austin. She had met a boy while working at the Apple Store in South Carolina who got a job working for Apple in Austin. Since she had a sister who already lived here, she jumped at the chance to move in 2014.
She remembers her first visit out here to see her sister: "I thought it was the coolest city, and I wanted to live here," she says.
That boy is now her husband, Aaron, who went to work for Apple while Klein got a job as a graphic designer at a startup.
She got her hand lettering start as a side gig making signs on wood. Mainly they were for weddings, as the signs to point people around the wedding or as cute ways to mark the day.
She started posting these signs on Instagram and had an Etsy store. People began to take notice.
They reacted with, "You should sell those."
At first it was about signs and other items that were personalized, but as Klein got more notice, she couldn’t keep up with personalization. Instead, she went for items with more universal appeal.
Things were really taking off, Klein says, and she was staying up really late at night to get all her Chalkfuloflove work done.
And even though leaving her full-time job was scary, she had to take the leap.
Then, a publisher reached out to her on Instagram with the idea that she should write a book to teach people how to hand letter. She was already selling a version of it that she was printing and binding herself and selling for $70 "or something ridiculous," she says.
If you think Klein is just handwriting a few notes here and there, think again. Klein says her own handwriting isn’t very legible, but hand lettering is more like painting the letter on.
She uses the Apple pen and iPad and the Illustrator program rather than a paintbrush and canvas, and she says she’s "not good with a paintbrush."
Her style has become notably, well, her style. In fact, she had applied with Whole Foods when she got to Austin to be one of their letterers and didn’t make the cut.
"They missed out on this letterer," she says.
Her lettering technique has evolved each year. And when she looks back at those early samples, she says, "It’s crazy."
It was much more traditional, she says, and now it’s more modern and playful. She’s also developed different styles to fit the mood of the message.
RELATED: How June & January kids clothing line went from Brooklyn to Georgetown
"I’m always keeping my original style and changing up a letter or something because I thought it looked cool. Sometimes I look at it and say, ’Oh, not cute.’"
She constantly tries new things.
"Right now I’m enjoying an S," she says. "There’s a capital H I drew today that was so cute. If I have time, I will play around, and that’s when a letter is most fun to me."
She tries not to look at too many things from other hand letterers. "If you see something, it gets stuck in your head and you think it’s your idea," she says.
Others have copied her, including big companies. "You have to be one step ahead," she says. "It’s more the ideas that you will have in the future that will help you, even when you have a big company rip you off."
Her loyal customers will tell her, though, and "if it’s really blatant, then maybe you go after that," which means using lawyers.
The idea that really took off was her "Jesus + Coffee" design on mugs. It was one of her first designs. "They still ask for it."
"That one was shocking to me," she says. She took it from a saying: "All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus."
She was lucky because at the end of 2015, mugs suddenly became really popular. "I cannot tell you why."
When she looks back on that mug, she’s not that excited by it. It was just a simple design, she says, "but there was nothing else on the market."
"I’m a Christian girl selling something that spoke to someone."
Things that have done well for her are home products like mugs, totes and pillows. She’s also created surprise boxes that are curated with five seasonal items. "People are buying it blindly," she says. "It’s by far the biggest selling item."
They typically sell out in a day.
"I love the idea of fun things," she says.
She’s shipped to as far as Australia and Singapore, where people are paying more for shipping than the products themselves.
"It’s crazy that there are people that think it’s awesome. It speaks to my customers and their loyalty that they would buy something and pay more in shipping."
RELATED: Katie Kime goes from college show to Austin runway
When she first started, she would make a mug and it would sell out in minutes.
Instagram is how Chalkfulloflove got well known.
Actress Sarah Hyland of "Modern Family" posted a picture of a Chalkfulloflove mug that had the phrase from "Elf" "cotton headed ninny muggins."
"That was crazy," she says.
And others posted, too. Chalkfulloflove now has 150,000 followers.
RELATED: Cedar Park mom’s Archer & Olive gives bullet journal fans the perfect notebook
She thinks her average buyer is a woman in her late 20s or 30s, sometimes her 40s. "She likes home decor, she has a kid at home, she’s a little bit sassy."
She’s someone a lot like Klein, who is a new mom to daughter Emerson.
She was pregnant with Emerson when the idea for "Learn to Letter with Luna the Llama" happened.
People on Instagram were posting their kids using "Hand Lettering 101."
She wanted to make a book that was a little bit more silly and fun and took the concepts of her first book but made them simpler. She thinks it’s for the 8- to 12-year-old, but she’s had friends whose 4-year-olds have used the book.
She’s also had a lot of adult beginners opt for the kids book rather than the adult version.
RELATED: Mica May takes May Design to the fashion show
Klein took a few months of maternity leave when she wasn’t working as much, but now she’s back to the business and balancing it with a baby. "Now I’m just working through nap time and evening," she says. "We’re trying to figure it out."
She can envision all the hand lettering and art projects she’ll do with Emerson. So far, she’s done a welcome home sign and a birth statistics sign for the nursery.
"I hope that we are the craftiest little pair," she says.
She follows posts on Instagram and Pinterest about crafts with little kids. "I really do enjoy that kind of stuff," she says. "I’m a right-brain lady, not a perfectionist."
RELATED: Austin Mom’s Network Maruxa Murphy builds connections, love of coffee