Maxine Clark: How Personal Satisfaction and Passion Leads to Success (Build-a-Bear Workshop)

| November 6, 2008 | 1 Comment

One of the most admirable women entrepreneur in recent years is Maxine Clark, founder of the highly successful Build-a-Bear Workshop. Her Build-a-Bear Workshop, first launched in St. Louis in 1997, has grown to a $474 million business 10 years later.

Ms. Clark has an extensive experience in retailing, with 19 years experience in various divisions of The May Department Stores. She was the President of Payless ShoeSource, Inc. from November 1992 until January 1996.

In an interview with BusinessWeek, she gave the reason for leaving her job to start her own business:

I left Corporate America on a mission to bring the fun back to retailing and to give back to the industry that had been so good to me. I was 47 years old when I left Payless ShoeSource in 1996. At that time, my financial rewards in retailing were very high, but my psychic income account was nearly empty.

Despite the lucrative position as top honcho of Payless, Ms. Clark realized that money does not necessarily equal personal satisfaction. She was looking to build a unique shopping experience in retailing and reconnect with customers.

I was looking to re-create the excitement and magic I felt as a child when I visited certain stores. Going shopping was an event. You became part of the store, and it was special. The truth is, what it takes to engage and retain retail customers today is really not much different than it was in the past. Build-A-Bear Workshop is about what I call “good old-fashioned, it’s-about-the-customer retailing.”

The lightbulb went off for her when she went out shopping for Beanie Babies with a 10-year old friend. Unfortunately, the store was out of inventory when they visited. The remark of her young friend, “These are so easy — we could make them,” led to the idea for Build-a-Bear Workshop.

Ten years later, Ms. Clark has sold over 50 million teddy bears in her workshops. The Chief Executive Bear learned that following her passion really pays off.
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  1. Tracey says:

    I fully agree to the fact that your passion for task done to your satisfaction would bring you success and joy. Doing things just for the sake of duty will not satisfy anyone. Joy comes from the task perfomed willingly. Such tasks brings you success and money follows.

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