My name is Katie and I am the lucky girl who Maxine credits as the inspiration for Build-A-Bear Workshop®. This is a credit that Maxine generously bestowed upon me, though I feel it is equally correct to say that I was merely a young girl who was willing to share my definite point of view on teddy bears and other furry friends!
Just as Maxine says she derives much of her inspiration from me and other children, I have found much inspiration in watching Maxine and the entire Build-A-Bear Workshop crew for the past several years. I marvel at the sheer creativity and innovation behind the Build-A-Bear Workshop brand. Build-A-Bear Workshop has changed what it means to be a toy store. Never before has a store existed in which you experience the steps of creating a stuffed animal. Never before have you been able to dress up your bear in army fatigues, a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, or, in my bear’s case, a printed sundress and espadrilles! Maxine and her team have found a way to make Build-A-Bear Workshop continually new and relevant for all guests, and the new store concept is yet another shining example of this. The fact that Build-A-Bear Workshop has disrupted the toy industry and set the new standard for how children shop is quite inspiring to me. Maxine did the unthinkable – she was forming ideas for what kind of business she wanted to create and then started listening to the children (me, for one) in her target audience. Who better to get business advice from than someone for whom you’re designing a product? Fifteen years since the founding of Build-A-Bear Workshop, I’m beginning to understand why Maxine calls me her inspiration: because I helped her to articulate her business idea.
Now it is my turn to learn something about business. After graduating from college in 2008 and spending two years working in consulting, and another two years working in retail, I’ve decided to attend graduate school. Starting this fall, I’ll be enrolling in a two year Masters in Business Administration program at The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. My goal is to learn all I can about the basics of business but also remember to never lose my sense of imagination. Imagination, paired with hard work and determination, is a mix that worked for Maxine. Her example is a continual inspiration to me, reminding me to dream big as I navigate my own path in the business world.