03/21/2012 09:19 am ET

Build-a-Bear's Maxine Clark On How She Got Started

Maxine Clark, the 63-year-old founder of Build-a-Bear, was always a shopper, even as a kid. So it made sense that she would wind up in retail. Clark eventually made it to the top -- as president of Payless ShoeSource. But the job wasn't enough -- the spark was gone, she said -- and she left in 1996. Clark then went on a search to find another idea that would rekindle her love for the business. The result: A simple shopping trip with a friend's daughter produced the idea for a single stuffed-animal factory in the St. Louis Galleria mall in 1997. Today Build-a-Bear Workshop operates 425 stores worldwide.