Founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop®
Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her 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, the Middle East and South America. Cumulative sales have exceeded $4.5 billion and over 125 million stuffed animals have been sold world-wide. In June 2013, Maxine stepped down from her Chief Executive Bear role to apply her entrepreneurial skills to her passion for improving K-12 public education and to invest in and mentor women and minority entrepreneurs. Maxine is a Founding member of Prosper Women’s Capital, a fund formed to invest in women entrepreneurs.
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. 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. 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. In 2014 Build-A-Bear Workshop was named to the FORTUNE Best Companies to Work For® list for the sixth year in a row.
In addition to her seat on the Build-A-Bear Workshop Board, Maxine is a member of the Board of Directors of Footlocker, Inc. Maxine serves on the national Board of Trustees of Teach For America and the local St. Louis regional board, the National Board of Donorschoose.org and the KETC Channel 9 – PBS Board of Directors where she is the current Board Chair. She is also a member of the Network forTeaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) St. Louis advisory board. She and her husband Bob Fox are founding donors of KIPP Inspire Academy and Maxine is chair of the charter school advisory Board of Trustees. Maxine serves on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Washington University in St. Louis, the Board of Directors of Beyond Housing and Parents As Teachers. 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 Saint Louis University. In 2006, she published her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart”.