If you want to see the makings of a successful business, visit your nearest Build-A-Bear Workshop® and create a custom stuffed animal.
After choosing a furry friend, you receive a small, fabric heart. Before filling the animal with stuffing, you must make a wish and place the heart inside. Once the bear is complete, you can head off to dress and accessorize him.
Being a successful entrepreneur has a lot to do with wishes, dreams, and where you put your heart, according to Build-A-Bear founder Maxine Clark.
“The biggest issue is that people don’t dream big enough,” she said during a spring visit to share insights on entrepreneurship with Randolph students. “They also don’t want to tell anybody about their ideas, because they think someone will steal them. Maybe people can take your idea, but if you’re really passionate about it, they can’t take what’s in your heart.”
After college, Clark set her eyes on executive jobs that, in the 1970s, usually were held by men.
“As a child of the ’60s, I grew up in a world where, every day, impossible things became reality,” she recalled. “When you grow up in a world like that, you don’t think there’s a limit to what you can do.”
Clark spent more than 30 years as a retail marketer and executive, including four years as the president of Payless ShoeSource®. Then she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, now a multi-million dollar company, based in St. Louis. Clark said she rose through the ranks of the retail business because she was willing to learn new things, never shied away from questions, and worked hard. People willing to follow that lead can find many opportunities to start businesses or work for others, Clark said.
“There are a ton of things that have yet to be invented,” she said while visiting Randolph. “I think there are many jobs for talented people who want to work hard and want to learn.”