Since 2013, Sharon Price John has served as the President and CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. In her tenure as CEO, she revitalized the beloved brand, bringing profitability back to the publicly traded company (NYSE: BBW) and diversified the company by embracing the digital economy to create a springboard for the brand’s relevance in the years to come. Before she was included in the small group of women who lead companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange, before serving as a change agent for multiple brands and business units at Fortune 500 Companies, and before attending Columbia University, Sharon Price John was a small-town girl in Tennessee who wanted to make an impact.
She would grow up to earn her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and after graduating got her first big break working for the advertising agency DDB/Needham Worldwide in New York City. Two years later she was recruited by Backer, Spielvogel, Bates, and eventually became the account supervisor on the M&M’s/Mars business.
Sharon would later go on to earn her MBA at Columbia University, after which she began her toy career at Mattel in an entry-level position on the Barbie brand. She spent five years, working her way up to a Vice President there, and eventually moved back East to work for another toy company, Hasbro. Seven years later, after helping to revitalize brands like Nerf and Littlest Pet Shop, while rising to the level of SVP/General Manager for the US Toy and Global Playskool Divisions, Sharon was ready for her next challenge. She decided to explore beyond the toy industry when she was tapped to be the President of the specialty footwear retailer, the Stride Rite Children’s Group (SRCG). Within a couple of years of her taking the helm, SRGC had returned to profitability and was named Company of the Year by Earnshaw’s magazine.
With toy and retail experience, Sharon caught the attention of Build-A-Bear Workshop in 2013, being recruited to take the helm from the legendary founder, Maxine Clark. Sharon was placed in charge of a company that was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession and still faced a number of challenges as consumer shopping habits shifted from traditional retail to e-commerce. From the revolutionary “Pay your age” promotion to tie-ins with some of the most popular entertainment and gaming brands on the planet (such as Star War’s “Baby Yoda,” Pokemon, and Harry Potter), as it celebrates 25 years in 2022, Build-A-Bear has successfully evolved and is poised to continue to be a part of the lives of kids and kids at heart for years to come.
Today, Sharon lives in St. Louis with her husband and three children. She is a member of the board of directors for Jack-in-the-Box (NASDAQ: JACK). She has been named one of the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s top one hundred distinguished alumni of the last one hundred years and has received alumni recognition from Columbia Women in Business. Sharon is also engaged with a number of business and philanthropic organizations, including being on the Executive Committee for the Toy Industry Association, serving on the board of KaBOOM! and being a member of The Committee of 200 (C200).