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Our Founder

Maxine Clark -- Founder, Chief Executive Bear and Chairman

Build-A-Bear Workshop®
Where Best Friends Are Made®

Maxine Clark has been Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. since the company’s inception in 1997 and has served as chairman of the board of directors since conversion to a corporation in April 2000. From November 1992 until January 1996, Maxine was the President of Payless ShoeSource, Inc. Prior to joining Payless, she spent over 19 years in various divisions of The May Department Stores Company in areas including merchandise development, merchandise planning, merchandise research, marketing and product development.

Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. During her 30-year career, her rare ability to spot emerging retail and merchandising trends and insight into the desires of the American consumer generated growth for retail leaders, including department store, discount and specialty stores. By year end 2006 there will be nearly 300 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company owned stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom and franchised stores in Europe, Asia and Australia. Another of Maxine Clark’s additions to entertainment retail is friends 2B made®, which launched in 2004. It’s based on the simple premise that kids, especially girls, love dolls.

Build-A-Bear Workshop, friends 2B made and Maxine Clark are proud to be recognized in their industry. In 2006 Maxine Clark was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. In 2005, the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies (NASBIC) made Build-A-Bear Workshop Portfolio Company of the Year. Build-A-Bear Workshop was a 2005 iParenting Media HOT Award Winner, 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. friends 2B made® received First Prize: Exterior - In-line Store Category in the Chain Store Age 2004 Retail Store of the Year Design Competition. Maxine was recently named a Customer-Centered Leader in the 2005 Customer First Awards by Fast Company. She was 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.

Maxine is a member of the Board of Directors of The J.C. Penney Company, Inc., where she also serves as Chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Barnes Jewish Hospital, Washington University in St. Louis and her alma mater, the University of Georgia. She is also Chair of Teach for America St. Louis and a member of the Committee of 200, a leading organization for women entrepreneurs around the world. In May 2006 her first book “The Bear Necessities of Business. Building a Company with Heart” was published by Wiley.