Our Founder

Maxine Clark -- Founder and Chief Executive Bear

Build-A-Bear Workshop®, Where Best Friends Are Made®

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 and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Mexico and the Middle East. The company extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award winning 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. 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 the 2010 and 2009 FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For® list. 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 serves on the Board of Trustees of Washington University in St. Louis and is a member of the Executive Committee. She is a member of the Teach For America National Board and the local St. Louis regional board, the National Board of Donorschoose.org and the KETC Channel 9 ? PBS Board of Directors. She and her husband Bob Fox are founding donors of KIPP Inspire Academy and Maxine is on the charter school advisory Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Committee of 200 and is a former member of the Board of Directors of The J.C. Penney Company, Inc. 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".