Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her 30-year career, her ability to spot emerging retail and merchandising trends and her insight into the desires of the American consumer have generated growth for retail leaders, including department store, discount and specialty stores. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. Today there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Build-A-Bear Workshop extended its in-store interactive experience online in 2007 with the launch of its virtual world at buildabearville.com.®
In 2008, Maxine Clark was named one of The 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age; in 2006, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame and received the 2006 Luminary Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement from the Committee of 200. She was named a Customer-Centered Leader in the 2005 Customer First Awards by Fast Company. Maxine was named one of the Wonder Women of Toys by Playthings magazine and Women in Toys, and was also one of the National Finalists in Retail for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2004. Build-A-Bear Workshop® was named to FORTUNE’s 2009 “100 Best Companies To Work For” list. In 2008 buildabearville.com received an Excellent Product iParenting Media Award. In 2005, the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies made Build-A-Bear Workshop Portfolio Company of the Year; it was named one of the International Council of Shopping Centers “Hottest Retailers of 2004” and the Retail Innovator of the Year for 2001 by the National Retail Federation.
Maxine is a member of the Board of Directors of The J.C. Penney Company Inc., and serves on the Board of Trustees of Washington University. She is chair of Teach For America – St. Louis and a member of the Teach For America National Board. She is a member of the KETC Channel 9 – PBS Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Committee of 200. Maxine is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from St. Louis University. In 2006, she published her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart.”