‘Mettle’ captures impact of family


Tiger Media Network

Throughout life, certain individuals can make a lasting impact on others – whether that be a friend, a coworker, a stranger or a family member. 

MFA student Chelsey Augustine demonstrated this in her thesis show “Mettle” which centers around different members of her family. 

“My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have played a large part in the ideologies of my family to understand and learn the qualities of hard work, persistence and strength,” Augustine said.  

Salomia’s Sweets & Snacks was inspired by Augustine’s great-grandmother Salomia. While Augustine wasn’t able to know her before her passing, the stories passed down from family members left an impression on her. 

“While life threw unexpected challenges her way, she managed to work through it all and stay grounded with her family and faith,” Augustine said. 

This brand was Augustine’s favorite to design. 

“I just went crazy with it,” Augustine said. “It’s so light-hearted and colorful and fun.”

Alda’s Apothecary was inspired by Augustine’s great-grandmother Alda. While going through old family photos, she stumbled upon a photo of Alda surrounded by plants. Augustine used this as inspiration to create a beauty and hygiene brand focused on flowers and plants. 

Lewsid’s Waterproof Leather Goods took inspiration from Augustine’s great-grandfather Lewis as well as her grandfather Sid and father Terry. 

“All three of these men are very hardworking people,” Augustine said. “They know what it’s like to really get their hands dirty to get a job done.” 

Augustine designed Lewsid’s to encompass that hardworking attitude with a “splash of Western swag.” 

Johanna’s Goods & Chattels was inspired by Augustine’s grandmother Johanna. 

“She is the main matriarchal figure in my life,” Augustine said. “Her work ethic and attention to detail have definitely been characteristics that have rubbed off onto me, molding me into the designer and woman I am today.”

Augustine said she originally chose the name “Mettle” because it means to cope with difficulties in a spirited and resilient way, and she believed that represented how her grandparents and great-grandparents faced challenges in their lives. 

As she progressed further and further into graduate school, she found the term resonating with herself personally as well. 

“Last semester was rough because a lot of stuff was happening in my personal life and I was having to work through all of it while also meeting the expectations to make all this work and meet deadlines,” Augustine said.

Graduate school was tough, but Augustine said it helped her grow in many ways. 

“I’m very thankful that I did it because I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a designer and also as an educator.”

Augustine works as an assistant professor of graphic design at Doane University. One of the biggest lessons she tries to instill in her students is to keep an optimistic attitude toward their own work.

“You have to be confident in the work that you’re making, to be able to sell the idea or to sell the proposal to the person that you’re doing the work for,” Augustine said. “It’s really easy to talk down to yourself, which I think we all can relate to.”