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Alumni Spotlight

Good Scents

When Kara Norman Chatterton was young, her BYU alumni parents took her and her five siblings on a pilgrimage to Provo from Idaho every other year or so.

Kara Norman Chatterton

During many a stroll across campus, her mom and dad extolled the virtues of a BYU education—while driving the message home with sweet incentives.
“We never left campus without a book from the bookstore and candy from the candy counter,” Chatterton says. “I knew early on that BYU was where I wanted to go to school.”

The visits to BYU sweet spots continued once she arrived on campus as a student. Chocolate milk and bridge mix from the candy counter became her go-to study snack. Since getting married and graduating, Chatterton and her husband, Zach, have kept the tradition alive. Every few years they take their five kids on the same walk across campus, ultimately ending up at the Wilk for ice cream, candy, and books.
“We’re trying to brainwash our children,” Chatterton admits, laughing. “BYU still feels like home because we have so many fond memories there. And it’s especially nice to be on campus without having to worry about finals.”

Chatterton and her husband Zach

The Chattertons hold a combined five BYU degrees, including three from BYU Marriott: Kara earned her MPA in 2010, and Zach received his BS in accounting in 2009 and his MBA in 2016. The couple has worked together to build a life that has room for all of their dreams.

Kara and Zach grew up together in Caldwell, Idaho. In high school, they were in the same friend group, and she gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon with her testimony written inside. He eventually joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served a mission, and joined Kara at BYU, where they married the summer before Kara began her grad studies.

Chatterton, who earned her law degree at BYU alongside her MPA, works as an associate counsel at Scentsy in Meridian, Idaho. Since his graduation, Zach has consulted with a number of companies and recently quit his job to focus solely on a promising tech startup. Chatterton feels fortunate that she found her spot right out of grad school. In her nine years at Scentsy, Chatterton has seen a lot of growth—both professional and personal.

Dreaming Big

Practicing law in one way or another was always in the cards for Chatterton—all because of a fourth-grade field trip.

With her elementary school class in Caldwell, Chatterton went on a trip to the county courthouse, where she listened to a presentation by a friend’s mother who was a judge. Chatterton was so taken with the experience that she determined then and there to become a judge herself someday. After the field trip, she came home and announced these plans to her parents.

Chatterton laughing

“They told me that if I wanted to be a judge, I would have to go to law school,” Chatterton says. “I said, ‘Okay,’ and that’s when I decided. Law school was always part of my educational plan.”

Chatterton’s parents have never shied away from supporting her, whether she was playing high school soccer, chasing her budding ambitions for a high-caliber career, or working in the family jewelry store with her siblings as a kid, first cleaning glass and running errands before working her way up to more responsible positions.

My parents always taught us to work hard and to serve others and have faith. I grew up believing that if I worked hard, I could do anything I put my mind to, because they were so encouraging and so supportive of everything I did.

With law school as her eventual goal, Chatterton decided on political science as her undergrad degree at BYU, considering it a marriage of her interests in government and American history. She loved it so much that she even considered pursuing a doctorate in political science after graduating. But her interest in local government led her toward BYU’s MPA program—and there was also the small matter of her lifelong dream of attending law school.

“I talked to my parents about it, and I mentioned that BYU offered a dual MPA and law degree,” Chatterton remembers. “My parents were encouraging, and so I decided, why not? I was in graduate school for four years, and I loved it.”

Becoming an Advocate

Somewhere between the fourth grade and her final year of law school, Chatterton realized her career aspirations had shifted. Her childhood dream of becoming a judge no longer rang true, though she still credits the courthouse field trip with opening her eyes to the possibility of law school.

Over two summers and part of a school year, Chatterton worked with a law firm in Nampa, Idaho, that practiced municipal law. “The work was a great combination of my law and MPA degrees,” Chatterton says. Although she fit in at the firm and enjoyed her work, the economy wasn’t great when she graduated, and there wasn’t a position available for her.

Three weeks after graduation, the Chattertons’ first daughter was born, and that spring Chatterton passed the bar exam. Zach took a job as a data analyst in Idaho, and Chatterton, both a newly minted mom and lawyer, still had no job leads.

Chatterton reading to her two sons with her daughter next to her reading her own book

“We bought a house and got settled in,” she says. “And I got started looking around at what I wanted to do.” She held out hope for part-time work at the law firm where she had worked earlier until she stumbled across a job listing that sparked her interest: an associate counsel position at Scentsy. Scentsy is a network-marketing fragrance company known for products such as wickless candles, and the company’s headquarters are near the Chattertons’ house.

“In law school, I had discovered the dream of becoming an in-house counsel,” Chatterton says. She loved the idea of advocating and fighting for a single client and cause. “I applied for the job blind,” she says. “I didn’t know anybody at Scentsy, and I was barely out of law school.”

Her chances, Chatterton says, were slim: the opening attracted a number of applicants, and she was an unknown and untested lawyer. “In addition, I didn’t think the interview went very well,” she notes. “But I ended up getting a job offer. It was my first ‘real’ job out of graduate school, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Today she loves raising her family in Meridian, and her ten-minute commute to work isn’t too shabby either. “I love coming to work,” she says. “I love the people here, and I love being a part of this company.”

Negotiating Growth

Negotiating contracts is the bread and butter of Chatterton’s work as an associate counsel at Scentsy. “I enjoy advocating for my client, whether that be in an arbitration situation or negotiating a difficult contract,” Chatterton says. “I love the resolution that comes after working through a difficult contract. I like that I have one client and that I am able to advocate for that one client.”

As Scentsy’s legal counsel, Chatterton finds that her days are never boring. “My work is varied,” she says, “and there’s a lot of it.” In a change of pace from her work with contracts, she and her boss recently represented Scentsy in a major arbitration and won—a career high for her so far.

When Chatterton started at Scentsy, the company had a presence only in the United States and Canada. Since then, she has helped Scentsy expand into Mexico, Australia, and various countries across Europe. The company currently employs more than a thousand people in three states and internationally. Chatterton has played an important role in paving the way for Scentsy to do business across the globe.

“With every new location comes a new host of legal issues to deal with,” she says. “We have to establish new business relationships and work with global counsel to ensure our policies comply with local laws. As Scentsy has grown, I’ve learned a lot about how to quickly work through unique challenges with Scentsy’s best interests in mind.”

Going Forth to Serve

Not every contract, negotiation, or arbitration that crosses Chatterton’s path is purely business. She values how Scentsy provides her the chance to use her legal skills to give back.

“Scentsy gives its employees the opportunity to speak with legal counsel about personal legal issues they may have, and that’s another part of my work I like,” Chatterton says. “That gives me a chance to get involved in areas of law I don’t practice as often. It’s great that they provide that resource to their employees—I can be at work helping my colleagues navigate their own legal issues.”

This service has led Chatterton to interesting cases as she’s had a chance to dig into questions beyond her day-to-day workload. She and her attorney colleagues have even teamed up on pro bono cases for members of the community.

Each year, Scentsy picks a charity to sponsor and then donates to that charity the proceeds from a selected product line. Sometimes several organizations are chosen in different regions around the world. Most recently the company has been working on raising funds for the Make-A-Wish and Make-A-Wish International organizations.

Guess who gets to negotiate the legal agreements behind these charitable partnerships? “This is a different kind of contract—a contract for a cause,” Chatterton says. “I love that Scentsy makes giving a part of its business. It allows us to give back in a big way.”

Powering Through

A few years after starting at Scentsy, Chatterton had settled nicely into her career and her family life. She had given birth to their third child, Zach was comfortable in his work, and the family was thriving in Meridian.

Soon after she returned from maternity leave, Chatterton had a distinct feeling that a big change was coming for the young family. She had no idea what that would be—and then the couple got news that Zach had been accepted into BYU Marriott’s full-time MBA program. Before they knew it, Zach was splitting his time between Provo and Meridian, gone for three to four nights a week while Chatterton managed the house, kids, new baby, plus her full-time job.

Kara and Zach with their four sons and one daughter

“Those two years were intense,” Chatterton remembers.

It was a crazy time in our lives. But we had the attitude of ‘We’ll figure it out.’ And we did.

Some weeks she drove the kids down to Utah to visit Zach, but most of the time he came home to Idaho. They leaned on nearby family and a determination to make space for what’s important to them.

Zach had always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, and his MBA opened doors to make that possible. With internships at Chatbooks and Adobe—plus BYU Marriott’s world-class entrepreneurship program and its successful track record—he was well positioned to move his career right where he wanted it.

After Zach’s graduation, life returned to normal for the Chattertons. Zach joined the family in Idaho, took a job at a tech startup, and eventually declined a C-suite promotion to focus on his own startup: Gather, a business-to-business software company for funeral homes.

Holding Steady

Life is good for Kara and Zach. Working together, they’ve followed their passions as they’ve built their careers and family. Chatterton’s main goal these days is to hold steady, at least for now, while Zach’s business and their five children (who range from a new baby to a nine-year-old) grow.

Holding steady doesn’t mean standing still though. Chatterton has goals to chase down outside the office too. “I want to run faster,” she says. “That’s my personal goal. I’m not very fast, but I did three half marathons in 2018, and I have another one coming up.” She ran off and on in high school and college but didn’t get serious about it until her third year in grad school.

Some recreational runners might start off with a 5K distance, but since childhood, Chatterton has always been the go-big-or-go-home type. “In my third year of graduate school, I trained for and ran the Salt Lake City Marathon,” she says. “That was my first race since elementary school. Ever since then I’ve loved running. Running is something I do just for me; it really is a great stress reliever.”

Chatterton always has a race on the schedule to train for. Meanwhile she’s keeping pace with her busy family, enjoying her kids while they’re still little, advocating for her client in whatever way is needed—and planning the next trip to Provo for bridge mix.


Article written by Sara Smith Atwood
Photography by Bradley Slade

About the Author
Sara Smith Atwood worked in magazines before becoming a freelance writer. A BYU grad, she lives in Orem with her husband and their two children.

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