Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. 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 internationally.
In June 2013, Clark 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. Her first product, Blueprint4SummerSTL, is a free and easy-to-use mobile app designed to help families navigate the best summer activities for their children. Clark is also a managing partner of Prosper Women’s Capital, a St. Louis-based fund created to invest in women-owned businesses in the St. Louis area.
Clark has been named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Retailing by Chain Store Age and Wonder Women of Toys by Playthings magazine and Women in Toys. In 2006, she became an inductee into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. In 2006, she published her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart.”
Clark is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Louis University and a Doctor of Humane Letters in Education from the University of Missouri St. Louis.