Maxine Clark, Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop & former Chief Executive Bear
Maxine Clark is the founder and former CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, an American retailer that sells customizable teddy bears and other stuffed animals.
Clark graduated from the University of Georgia in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Louis University.
In 2006, she published her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart”.
After college, she worked at Hecht's, a division of the May Company department store chain, and in 1976 was promoted to the corporate offices in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1992, Clark became the president of Payless Shoe Source, and left the company in 1996.
In 1997, Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop after being inspired during a shopping trip by a friend's 10-year-old daughter when they couldn't find a Beanie Baby they were looking for. The girl commented that they could make the toy at home and that sparked Clark's idea to create a store to make stuffed animals. Nine months later, Build-A-Bear opened its flagship store at the St. Louis Galleria mall in October 1997 and issued an initial public offering in 2004 with 140 stores.
In 2013, Clark, retired from Build-A-Bear, turning over the CEO's role to Sharon Price John.
She currently serves as the CEO of Clark-Fox Foundation and is the Chief Inspirator of The Delmar DevINe real estate project.