Episode 01 | Part One: Maxine Clark

Episode Information

The amazing Maxine Clark is Sharon’s first guest on the podcast. Maxine is the founder and forever chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop. In part one, Maxine shares why teddy bears mean so much to her, the inspiration for creating a teddy-bear-themed retail-entertainment experience, and the importance of creating a positive culture for customers and employees.

About Maxine Clark: Maxine 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 stores, discount, and specialty stores. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience.

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 credits her teachers as her foundation for success—classroom teachers and mentors alike. To honor them, she gives back. Her next “act” is making public education much more consumer-friendly by creating more access for families and students to systems and supports to enrich each child’s learning experience. Launched in 2015, her first product, Blueprint4.com, is a free and easy-to-use mobile app designed to help ALL families navigate the best summer activities, pre-college programs, and career options for their families. Her latest venture is the Delmar DivINe™—the transformation of a neighborhood eyesore into a multi-use real estate development that opened in 2021.

Maxine is also a Managing Partner of Prosper Women’s Capital, a St. Louis based fund created to invest in women-owned businesses, and a member of the Board of Advisors of Lewis & Clark Ventures, a St. Louis based private equity firm, and is a trusted advisor and mentor to several women and minority-owned businesses.