Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union
Christian Union: The Magazine
Sheri Casali, a new Christian Union ministry fellow, is especially passionate about discipleship. As the fall...
May 17, 2021

Christian Union Alumnus Founds NYC Design Studio

By Anne Kerhoulas, Staff Writer

Strategy is the name of the game for Cody Min, the founder of Astronaut Monastery, a creative studio operating out of New York City. 

With the tagline of “Making work that thinks and thinking that works,” Min, the company’s head of new business and strategy, has created a sleek and successful firm serving clients like Hyundai, the popstar Kesha, Cole Haan, Rowing Blazers, Disney-ABC, Samsung, and Uniqlo. Min’s creative work today is deeply rooted in his faith, which was cultivated through the ministry of CU Martus (formerly called Penn Faith and Action or PennFA).

cody min photo

Min ’17 was a member of the launch year of PennFA. It was his community, his social circle, the place he was discipled as a young believer, and where he first began to consider how faith and work might intersect. He served on the socials committee and later as an executive team member.

“Christian Union was my college experience,” said Min. “I was certainly involved in other college activities, but [PennFA] was sort of the number one priority. [It] was my social scene; it was my closest group of friends.”

Today, almost nine years after setting foot on Penn’s campus and joining Christian Union, Min puts his faith into action through his business prowess—pursuing excellent and beautiful design that is functional, efficient, and client-centered while fostering an environment that is fueled by grace.

After gaining experience throughout college as a freelance photographer, Min turned his gaze towards design and began making plans to launch Astronaut Monastery the fall after graduation. From the start, he knew he wanted to create a business that was guided by his faith after receiving a solid theological and Biblical foundation through one-on-one discipleship and Bible courses. “The focus of Christian Union....was about how to intersect faith with your work and how do you prepare for that future—how do you develop leaders in the next generation.”
 

The name Astronaut Monastery, a creative studio that helps with branding, design, strategy, and production, came to him by combining two vast ideas: the vision, wonder, and remarkable work of landing on the moon and the solitary but communal creativity of monks in a monastery. As an art history major with a focus on the intersection of theology and art-making, Min was drawn to the concept of the monastery as a home for creative endeavors.  

“I was sort of inspired and obsessed with the idea of a monastery as an analogy for a design studio. You often work in silos as individuals in the same way that many monks work in solitude, but then you work together...in a design studio in group collaboration,” Min says. 

Though the naming of Astronaut Monastery was infused with Min’s faith and desire to incorporate his faith into his vision for his business, Min’s faith shines through his leadership, his dealing with clients and employees, and his hunger to create beauty that reflects our most beautiful God.

“I tie faith into my work through the name of the agency as well as through the way that we approach work,” he said. “We really believe in service to our clients. Obviously, we’re in a service-based industry so you’re not going to survive if you don’t serve your clients, but we serve our clients for a bigger reason. We’re not just serving our clients to get a check at the end of the day, which is nice, but we do it because we believe it’s our duty and our moral responsibility.” 

Min’s convictions have proved to be a firm business model, but he is equally passionate and interested in the quality of work that he and his business produce, arguing that excellent work best reflects our perfect creator God.

“God as creator God is an artist at His core and the act of creation itself is a way to bring glory to God...So the act of designing even something as simple as a company’s landing page, there is a delight and a joy that you get from making things and making them in a beautiful way. You feel this very intangible, but also super tangible, feeling when you make something really amazing and really different. You feel this link in a way that perhaps may be a taste of what God felt when he created humanity or creation,” Min says.

 “We also believe that bad design is offensive in many ways, and many companies have design that isn’t good; it’s not efficient and it’s not beautiful. If we can build work or shoot commercials that tell stories and tell them in a beautiful way, we believe that act in itself is redemptive.”

Much of Min’s work revolves around the basic concept of strategy: how can he make interesting and beautiful design that isn’t merely trendy, accomplishes what the client needs, and communicates effectively. Min points back to his first years in PennFA as being formative in creating a foundation for thinking strategically about his work. PennFA was where he first gained experience in branding as he and his peers thought strategically about how to get his peers to come to events like their leadership lecture series.

“Because we were the first class (of PennFA), there were a lot of exercises on how to build a brand. That was actually super foundational to thinking about community and brand building. My personal work is becoming more and more strategic in helping clients think about how they build their own communities, how they pitch their products and get people to love it, and become evangelists for their product,” Min says.

But while many business strategies can be self-promoting and protecting, only looking out for the company’s best interest, Min takes a gospel approach trying to be gracious, thoughtful, and caring with his clients, the contractors he collaborates with, and his employees. 

 

Min reflects that there have been times that he would have loved to accept a job, but because of a client’s values not aligning with his, explicit imagery, or being asked to create projects in spaces that he was not comfortable with, he would opt to hold steadfastly to his values rather than being motivated by money. 

 

For Min, the gospel breathes redemption into every corner of his work and he looks for opportunities to show grace in an industry that rarely has mercy to those who fail. “We always give our contractors a second chance, which we believe is the redemptive way to work, even if it costs us more." 

 

Min, like so many other alumni of Christian Union ministries, is living out his faith in his workplace. By serving and loving people in the small ways, pursuing honest and ethical business practices, and creating work that reflects the beauty of our Maker, Min brings the aroma of Christ to New York City and the design world.

To stay up to date with important articles like this one regarding Christian Union's leadership development efforts at some of our nation's most influential universities, please subscribe to our newsletter: Click here.