When she was in her mid-40s, Maxine Clark founded Build-A-Bear-Workshop, a store where children can make their own teddy bears.
Build-A-Bear, which opened its first store in 1997 at the St. Louis Galleria, went public in 2004. Today, there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Mexico and the Middle East.
Clark, now 63, announced recently that she will retire as “chief executive bear” of the Missouri-based company. She doesn’t plan to slow down, however. As she explains in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, she’s found inspiration from people like Bill Gates who have used their success in business to serve bigger purposes.
Once Build-A-Bear names a successor, Clark will remain on the board. She also wants to dedicate her money, creativity and energy to help improve public education in the St. Louis area. She’s already involved with a local charter school and Teach for America.
“All along, I’ve known there are other things for me to do,” Clark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “No timing is ever perfect. But this is as close to perfect as I’m going to get. I still have 20 years left to change the world.”