Posts Tagged ‘Build-A-Bear Workshop’

It’s a 5-PEAT!!

January 17, 2013

Build-A-Bear Workshop was named to FORTUNE magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the 5th year in a row and we are BEARY excited!

The list was revealed in a surprise announcement this morning on FORTUNE’s iPad App. Details and features on all of the honored companies will be posted online tomorrow at Fortune.com/BestCompanies. We can’t wait to have more details when the full announcement is made and even more info when the print issue is released next week.

Sustaining a position on this employer of choice list for 5 years is truly one of our most PAWSOME accomplishments. Our Associates are the heart of our brand. When our Associates have fun, our Guests have fun. Thanks to all–our Associates, our Guests, our vendors and all stakeholders for helping us be amongst the BEARY best!

Hugs,
Maxine

BEARY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!

December 31, 2012

The new year is always a time for looking forward. A time for introspection. What will the new year bring? What did we learn in the year just ended? What do we hope for ourselves and the world we live in? How do we meld our work with our personal values, keep life in perspective and build a legacy for the future?

In 2012 Build-A-Bear Workshop celebrated our 15th birthday–well over 100 million stuffed animals sold and $4 billion in revenues since our first store opened in St. Louis, MO in the Fall of 1997. Hard to believe when you think the idea was born on a shopping trip in a local toy store when a 10 year old girl–said, “we can make these!” Boy was Katie right. 400+ stores worldwide have proven that a hug is understood in any language and to me that is the most important lesson.

What would the world be like if teddy bears were in charge? Would our congress and our senators (imagine teddy bears of all sizes, shapes and colors) be struggling to reach a compromise for the sake of the country? I think not–they would listen to each other and agree to a mutual understanding and then hug. That is what we need right now. Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks asks us all to “Come Together” and has even created a conversation on Twitter at #cometogether. I AGREE!! What kind of company would Starbucks or Build-A-Bear Workshop be if its leaders and store teams could not agree on the products or the service they offered? Would we even be a brand that people loved if our associates didn’t support the companies’ goals and “come together” to reach our objectives? No way. That is what makes great companies and enduring brands — leaders have a vision that the teams can support and in fact make even larger by working together, by as Howard says, coming together. At Build-A-Bear Workshop we call it our magic formula : 1+1=10! It is about colla-BEAR-ation, teamwork at it’s highest, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

This year at Build-A-Bear Workshop we launched our newly imagined store design. While Build-A-Bear introduces new products every few weeks, we hadn’t really changed our store design markedly in 15 years. It was time! 10 year old kids today have all kinds of technology that they engage with that wasn’t even available 5 years ago, let alone 15 years ago. How could we use their love of technology and game play and combine it with their love of stuffed animals and the heart that makes our furry friends so extra special? Two years in the making, our newest store design is an example of the highest level of colla-BEAR-ation. From our team of Cub Advisors (our kid experts), their Moms, our store and IT design teams inside and outside the company we created a store with more stuff, more fluff and much more heart. These 6 initial stores have lived up to every expectation and exceeded many. We are already working on our expansion plans in 2013 with our landlords, who as our partners, have also been part of the colla-BEAR-ation team.

I am looking forward to 2013. Build-A-Bear Workshop has exceeded my wildest expectations. It is capable of many more years even better than the last 15. Like every year it will have its changes and challenges–that is part of growth and building a brand for generations to hug. At Build-A-Bear Workshop we like to say it takes a village to raise a bear and we are very thankful to have such a big village–our Guests and our Associates always willing to “Come Together” for a common purpose–to bring smiles to kids 3-103 everyday.

A BEARY happy and healthy new year to all.

Hugs,

Maxine

December 22, 2012

Have a BEARY Merry

It sounds trite to say this but it still amazes me how fast the year goes. I used to think this was just about being in retail—no sooner is one holiday season over and we have started planning the next. One good by product of that is that you are almost always in the holiday spirit!

This year marks the 16th holiday season for our company and we have come a long way from our first store opening at the Saint Louis Galleria in October, 1997. In those days I signed every single birth certificate, hand wrote every gift certificate and helped dress tons of bears as Guests brought their kids and families to our store to celebrate our reason for being—to make kids smile! It wasn’t that we made kids smile everyday that was so unique, but where we did it—the mall, and how we did it– we engaged with our Guests young and old. They had fun because we had fun and vice versa.

We constantly launch new products (we are known for our cuteness)  but we hadn’t more than tweaked our experience in 15 years. Armed with lots of data and Guest input this year we launched a newly imagined store design. Over two years in the ideation and testing process, all 6 of these first new stores are re-awakening the fun of making your own stuffed animal and has exceeded our expectations.

When I created Build-A-Bear Workshop I wanted it to be all the things and more that I loved about shopping with my Mom and sister when I was a child mixed with a little Disneyesque magic and Willy Wonka wonder. It worked and today 16 holiday seasons later we have sold well over 100 million stuffed animals and done over $4 billion in revenue and made zillions of children and their families smile. None of us could have imagined in 1997 the impact of the internet, mobile phones or apps for that matter. Today bearville.com, our app and our newly imagined store makes Build-A-Bear Workshop even more relevant for an entirely new generation of kids.

At Build-A-Bear Workshop we celebrate children and the heart of a child that is inside all of us. This last week has been devastating for us as many of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT are our Guests. The world mourns for these innocent children and their beloved teachers. Our staff has helped celebrate birthdays and milestones with many of these children .  I am told a teacher at Sandy Hook uses our bear in her classroom to teach character and responsibility.  This past week we helped in the grieving process as people came in to our stores with their children to help ease the pain or just to find something fun to do—a new friend to hug when the world seems to be getting out of control. It is what we do. It is what we have been doing for 15 years. It is still our reason for being—plain and simple, to make kids smile when they need it the most. And frankly, lets be honest, it helps us too. Over 500 bears were made and delivered to Sandy Hook for every child –all packaged with TLC and the hope that our furry friends be there to listen to their thoughts and hug away their tears.

At Build-A-Bear Workshop from the first animals we made in 1997 to everyone made since then, we consider it a privilege to be part of what makes the world a better place—encouraging our children to be kids. To laugh and cry and share and hug. I have always believed that the more kids have a teddy bear as a child the less violence we will see. Teddy Bears and their soft cuddly friends teach us so many lessons but the most important is the value of a hug. It is universal. Our bears are proud to be called into duty and doing just what they were meant to do—HUG.  How lucky we are to be part of the solution and not the problem. That is why whenever a child needs a hug, we will always be first in line. YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!

This holiday season let’s take some extra special time to hug someone we love, to say I am glad you are part of my world, I am here for you. Kindness matters.  Hugs make the world BEAR-able.

Happy holidays.

Maxine
Founder & Chief Executive Bear

HAPPY BEAR-thday to US! 15 YEARS OF HUGS & SMILES

October 19, 2012

This weekend marks the 15th Birthday of Build-A-Bear Workshop! Our first store opened at the Saint Louis Galleria in St. Louis, MO in October of 1997 and we’ve been sharing smiles and making memories with our Guests ever since. As part of our birthday celebration, we are inviting Guests to make special stuffed animals for free to donate to Toys for Tots in the U.S. and Salvation Army in Canada on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21. This special effort will help kick off the holiday toy drives for both organizations this season.

Build-A-Bear Workshop is a company with heart and Stuffed with Hugs is a way to give our young Guests the opportunity to give back. Over 30,000 stuffed animals will be made and donated to children who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday. As we celebrate our birthday, we also commemorate 15 years of giving back to important causes around the world.

Supporting causes that are important to our Guests- like children’s health and wellness, animals, and literacy- has been a part of the Build-A-Bear Workshop teddy bear culture of sharing and caring since the very beginning. Build-A-Bear Workshop and its foundation have given nearly $31 million to these important causes and we have always shared the hug of a teddy bear wherever needed locally or abroad.

We are looking forward to continuing this commitment to giving back through Stuffed with Hugs. Participants can meet Build-A-Bear Workshop mascot, Bearemy® and enjoy a variety of 15th birthday celebration activities. As a thank you for helping, Guests will receive a Build-A-Bear Workshop coupon for a future visit. To learn more about Stuffed with Hugs weekend activities or to find a store in your area, visit buildabear.com. I hope to you can visit a Build-A-Bear Workshop store near you this weekend, participate in Stuffed with Hugs, and help brighten kids’ holidays with teddy bear hugs!

All the beary best,
Maxine Clark
Chief Executive Bear

INSPIRE ME! BECOME A 2012 HUGGABLE HERO!

January 29, 2012

Our 2012 Huggable Heroes--What an incredible group!

It’s a new year! Every January, I reflect upon the previous year, and think long and hard about what I can learn from it. And every year, without fail, I am amazed at how much I learn from young people who are changing the world. I am always inspired by their drive and commitment to make a difference, and so I make it an annual mission to reward these passionate kids who teach me and all of us so much about helping others.

Today, Build-A-Bear Workshop launches our ninth annual Huggable Heroes search for young people who go to extraordinary lengths to make the world a better place. The program was created to encourage and empower kids – ages eight to 18 – to be community service leaders and to award them for accomplishing great deeds.

Anyone ages eight and above – parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, community leaders, even young people themselves – may nominate a candidate. Entry forms are available at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada or online at: buildabear.com/huggableheroes. Nominations will be accepted through February 27.

Entries will be narrowed down to 80 semifinalists in March and to 30 finalists by the beginning of May. Ultimately 10 new Huggable Heroes will be selected to join the ranks of more than 100 other amazing youths from the previous eight years. Each new Huggable Hero will receive a $7,500 scholarship toward his or her college education and a $2,500 donation from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation for a cause of his or her choice. Also, the Huggable Heroes will receive a video camera and a trip to St. Louis to celebrate their accomplishments, participate in a professional photo shoot, and meet fellow 2012 Huggable Heroes.

Last year I learned a few lessons on giving back from each one of our Huggable Heroes:

From Nicholas and Cassidy I learned the importance of staying positive when presented with hardships, using personal experiences to help others in similar circumstances.

From Shannon, Kyle, Rujul, Justin and Armin, I learned to look at issues impacting other countries, see if there’s a way to solve them and then to take action.

From Shaun, Jasmine and Deventae, I am reminded to always look around the community in which I live and support those in need – whether they be sick, hungry or lacking educational resources.

You can read all of the 2011 Huggable Hero stories at buildabear.com/huggableheroes. I hope you are inspired by these stories, learn from them and take up a cause of your own. Because whatever you can do, no matter how big our small, you can make a difference.

What kind of stories about giving back will we hear in 2012? I hope to hear yours or one you share about a friend, and wherever the stories come from, I have no doubt I will be inspired by them. We look forward to hearing about the next group of young leaders and givers.

Hugs,
Maxine
Chief Executive Bear

P.S. Behind our Huggable Heroes are great parents who encourage charitable behavior. There are many ways young people of all ages can become involved in community service. Here are a few tips from some of the Huggable Hero’s moms:

• Walk the walk. Get involved yourself; participate in charitable events on behalf of causes you believe in.

• Include children in volunteer efforts. Provide opportunities for children to see and act on the needs of others so they learn first-hand how they can make a positive difference.

• Start small. Do little projects to help others and begin at an early age.

• Consider a charity allowance. Set aside a percentage of each child’s monthly allowance for charity and let them decide where to donate the money at the end of six months.

• Support them. Allow their ideas to flourish and help their dreams become reality whether that means lending moral support, providing necessary transportation and equipment, or giving them a pat on the back to keep them going.

• Remember: Encouraging your children to participate in charitable endeavors is a gift to them, as well as to the people whose lives they touch.

I AM BEARY THANKFUL

December 26, 2011

Although the holidays are a very busy time of year for everyone, I want to take a few moments to say THANK YOU for being part of our Build-A-Bear Workshop extended family and best wishes to each of you for a happy holiday and New Year.

When I started Build-A-Bear Workshop in 1997, now almost 15 years ago, I wanted to make the experience of creating a stuffed animal the most personal, interactive and memorable experience it could be by offering the highest quality products at the best possible value. I also wanted to find great people with great heart to work in our stores who loved children and who could bring out the imagination of each Guest, through the fun of making a stuffed animal. Just a week before Christmas we commemorated the selling of our 100 millionth stuffed animal. We are proud and honored that so many of our furry friends are being hugged as we speak all around the world!

Based on my passion for this idea, combined with the spirit, dedication, and integrity of the many thousands of associates in our company and our stores around the world, Build-A-Bear Workshop continues to this day to be a place that makes people smile. We know we have a great responsibility to each of you to provide this experience with products that are safe and fun. If any of our products don’t meet our standards we will act quickly and accordingly. You have my personal commitment to deliver on this promise.

As many of you know, Build-A-Bear Workshop is commemorating its 15th Birthday in 2012! We will have the ongoing store events, unique products and special programs you have come to expect from us and we are also planning some added excitement during our year-long celebration. Be on the lookout for more information to come as we share many happy occasions and memories with you in the coming year.

I am so lucky to have your special friendship throughout the year and I look forward to hearing from you often with your suggestions and ideas about how to make Build-A-Bear Workshop even better. You can always write to me at Maxine@buildabear.com or post a comment or question on this blog. I will do my best to respond quickly 
Thank you all for taking the time to stay connected all year long.

Hugs to all, Happy Holidays and a beary Happy New Year,

Maxine Clark,
Founder and Chief Executive Bear

IT’S NOT WHERE YOU GO, IT’S WHAT YOU SEE

December 1, 2011

The invention of a lifetime!

My travels take me across the world to many great cities and when I visit our stores, to many great malls. To many people shopping is mundane and a nuisance. To me it is and always has been fun and enlightening. I have found some great ideas for our business looking at other businesses. From airlines to hotels and restaurants to museums and retailers–all of this is a great laboratory for us to see what the public likes and what we can adapt to our own bearstyle. I am especially a sucker for great packaging. Today was no exception.

My day was spent in Chicago–just an hour’s plane ride from St. Louis. The day was beautiful for travel and not too windy or cold. My ultimate reason for being in Chicago was a meeting with one of our landlords but on the way we got to stop at a mall in DT Chicago and then catch a quick bite of lunch before the meeting.

Between the mall and our meeting we spotted a Chick-Fil-A restaurant– the first and only one in DT Chicago. I am a pretty regular person and if the truth be known, Chick-Fil-A may be my all time favorite restaurant. I love the cow mascot almost s much as I love Bearemy. But most of all I love the great company that Chick-Fil-A creates. Their staff is happy and their food is very good for the price and they have many healthy choices for me to choose to go with my waffles fries :)

It was at the condiment center that I saw the most incredible idea–this new ketchup container. For years I have torn open the old ketchup pouch–maybe used 2-3 for one small order of fries. But not anymore–at least not at Chick-Fil-A. Enter the new Dip and Squeeze Heinz ketchup container. It’s even shaped like a ketchup bottle. You can open at the top to squeeze on your fries or sandwich or peel back to dip your fries into the container. In the same size container, you get 3x the ketchup, no messy fingers and you only use one. No mess and less packaging waste. BEAR-ILLIANT IDEA!! It was one of those moments that makes you say, “what a great idea” or ” why didn’t I think of that?” What this said to me above and beyond just the nice experience of clean fingers and less waste was someone was out there thinking and doing. Someone was as irritated as the rest of us but did something about it. Someone took an idea to reality.

This is the best of a creative mind at work–someone sees an everyday activity –eating at fast food restaurants and saw an opportunity to turn a nuisance into a pleasure. Not through high tech but through simple packaging. I am sure that engineering and design entered into it and someone at Heinz had to have the sense to see the business opportunity and back the product and Chick-Fil-A bought it. This is what makes ideas and what makes profits–a need or a void is filled by someone taking action–doing something rather than just lamenting about it.

I don’t know the inventor but I took an extra ketchup just to remind me to keep looking and listening. Ray Kroc didn’t invent hamburgers and Howard Schultz didn’t invent coffee—they just invented how to make both better and sell more! Everyday an idea is staring us in the face if we just live our lives with open eyes and SEE the opportunity and as we like to say at Build-A-bear: GO FUR IT!!

Thanks Heinz and Chick-Fil-A–you made my day!

Hugs and happy holidays,
Maxine

DREAM THE DREAM SUPREME

November 22, 2011

One of our best moments at Build-A-Bear Workshop was the creation of Holly and Hal Moose. My two favorite antlered siblings, Holly and Hal Moose, are back just in time for the holidays! You may remember when “Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” first aired on television nationwide two years ago. For Build-A-Bear Workshop®, this was the first time that our stuffed animals were brought to life in an animated feature film. This season, we welcome Holly and Hal back to TV, airing on the Hub TV Channel Tuesday, November 22 at 1pm EST and Sunday, November 27 at 9am EST.

“Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” is one of my favorite holiday stories because it tells the tale of an unlikely sibling pair who work together to save Christmas. Their journey is an inspirational reminder to always follow your dreams-no matter how big they may seem.

Holly Moose the level-headed inventor, always helping her younger brother on his latest adventure.

Much like Holly and Hal, I too dared to dream big and the result was Build-A-Bear Workshop. When I was growing up, my family told me I could be whatever I wanted to be- no matter what! That mentality stuck and I have always been a dreamer. Originally, that dream was to be a lawyer. I only took my first job in retailing to save up the money to go to law school. Of course, while at the May Department Stores Company I found my true calling. Several years later, when I left Corporate America, I still didn’t know what company I would create but I never stopped dreaming the dream supreme.

I am reminded of a quote I once saw though I could not find the name of the writer–it guides me today:
“If you can live your imagination, your life will be a dream come true.” My life is a dream come true!

Each of us are born with certain gifts that help us turn talents into passions and develop our own worth ethic. It starts by believing you can truly achieve whatever you set your mind to. Many people get so caught up in what they can’t do that they don’t know about how much they can accomplish. Focus on the positives. You alone are responsible for creating your own success, so don’t let outside forces limit your possibilities. I never put restrictions on my vision, nor did I let the way others made or sold stuffed animals stand in my way. Instead, I allowed myself to dream of this unique business going from one store at the Saint store at the Saint Louis Galleria to something that could be as huge as I thought it could be. My dream eventually came true, and yours can to – believe in yourself.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all those people that inspired me to be all that I can be. As the holidays draw near, let Holly and Hal be your inspiration that anything you dream is possible. Be sure to catch “Holly and Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure” on the Hub TV Channel to relive their exciting journey filled with friends and fun. You can also buy the DVD online at buildabear.com or at a local store that sells DVDs! I know I will be watching as this dynamic duo once again let their imaginations run wild to create the perfect Christmas adventure.

Heartfelt Holiday Hugs,
Maxine

P.S. A special thanks to Mrs. Adams, my inspiring high school journalism teacher who taught me the power of imagination and believing in yourself. Your determination and creativity is a very special part of Holly Moose!

THE BIG IDEA: THE BIG RETURN

November 8, 2011

November 7, 2011

Over the years, I have often written about young people who inspire me – especially those who are recognized as Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes. Last week, I had the privilege of working alongside Talia Leman, one of our 2007 Huggable Heroes, and meeting hundreds of motivated, inspiring kids from across the St. Louis region who have that Huggable Hero sparkle in their eyes.

Thanks to a BIG idea from Talia, on November 3, Build-A-Bear Workshop hosted nearly 200 students and teachers from 34 area schools for The BIG Return Summit to discuss important community issues and brainstorm solutions. Each school walked away with a tangible project that will help tackle these issues head-on. And because the projects are led by young people, as Talia says, there will be a BIG Return. Talia was recognized as a Huggable Hero for starting RandomKid, an organization that empowers kids to solve real problems by joining other youth who have the drive to change the world. Through her work, Talia found that youth can turn charitable donations into a 200 – 1,000 percent return for a cause because of their determination and drive. She says that because young people don’t know what isn’t possible, they can think and act more creatively.

The BIG Return leverages the power of youth to make big changes in the world, and those big changes are happening right here in St. Louis. Talia has brought together St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and other community leaders to challenge the community to support these efforts – and guess what? Change is happening.

It’s this type of “sky is the limit” thinking for social change that motivates me and inspires me to run Build-A-Bear Workshop in the manner we do. It’s always been part of our mantra to give back to the communities where we live, work and play and we love helping energize young people to do the same, and to become venture capitalist for social good.

Last Thursday was an important day for Build-A-Bear Workshop, Talia, the participating kids and the St. Louis community. My hope is that this idea of The BIG Return turns into an even BIGGER project – not just for St. Louis – but for the entire nation. Build-A-Bear Workshop hosted the first-ever BIG Return Summit in St. Louis – where will it go next? Chicago? Dallas? Los Angeles? What other cities will step up to the plate and rise to the challenge? I know the energy is there because I saw it from the youth, and it’s contagious.

And who knows? Maybe one of those kids sitting in that very room with us last Thursday will be in the next class of Huggable Heroes. Stay tuned as Huggable Hero nominations for 2012 begin in January.

Kids have the answers to the world’s problems, if we listen! I look forward to hearing about the projects these kids undertake and the differences they make in our community and the world! I know our St. Louis youth will become role models for other youth across America as they carry out the mission of The BIG Return.

Hugs,
Maxine Clark
Chief Executive Bear

ITS A WINNER!

October 30, 2011

It is no surprise that I would write about the inspiring run of our St. Louis Cardinals—after all I live in St. Louis and we believe win or lose, this is baseball heaven. This was even more true this year as we saw our Redbirds come from 10 1/2 games behind in August to win the World Series in 7 nail biting games on October 28, 2011. St. Louis fans are not usually fair weather but this year I had a lot more people tell me they had not attended a game than usual. And while our sales held up at Busch stadium thanks to the diehards, we could see attendance slipping just a little. We all needed some magic.

What is more magical than animals? Yes, even the Cards can be influenced by furry friends. We have a store in Busch Stadium if they need one close by to hug, but this came from a real live furry friend—a squirrel who just needed more time to collect his acorns and food scraps and wandered into the stadium to give the Cards some encouragement. “We need more games,” he seemed to say as he was shooed away. It worked!! Rally Squirrel as the fans named him was just what the doctor ordered to shake things up. His determination to go live in Busch Stadium was contagious and the rest as they say is history. The fans started cheering and the players got the message:
If a squirrel can make it to homeplate, so can you!

Of course there is more to winning the Wild Card berth, the NLCS and then the World Series than the motivation a fuzzy, grey squirrel can provide. Like in any business it takes uncommon leadership, plan, a team—24 players + Albert Pujols, determination, encouragement and yes, just a little bit of luck too. The Cards had all that plus a great story.

The Ace-Chris Carpenter
The Utility Man- Allen Craig
The Hometown boy- David Freese.

The Cardinals have given the world something to think about and learn from—giving up is not an option. You have to come to the plate every time as if this is the last. It all matters and there are no sure things—no guaranteed job. Lemons can become lemonade. Change is good and it takes hard work. Thanks David Freese for reminding us that dreams do really come true and being from St. Louis is an honor.

The American dream is alive in well in St. Louis, Missouri (home of Beer, Baseball and Bears) aka Baseball Heaven, USA.

Hugs,
Maxine


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