I looked around to see if we could buy a business, like a factory that made stuffed animals and make it even more successful. I found a few that made stuffed animals, but no one wanted to sell. Katie thought we should just do it and so we did. We decided to reinvent the idea of making your own stuffed animals for mall- based retailing. After all, Ray Kroc from McDonald's didn't invent hamburgers and Howard Schultz from Starbucks didn't invent coffee, they just invented how to sell more and how to sell it better.
Every adult I asked about the idea said it would never work – why would anyone ever want to make their own stuffed animal? But every kid said "Where is it?" and "When can I do it?" My teddy bear, "Teddy", was my first best friend and helped shape who I am today, so I knew just how meaningful teddy bear friendship could be.
We opened our first store in 1997 at the Saint Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri. Today there are over 400 stores worldwide, and just over 70 million furry friends adventuring around the globe.
I am so proud that at Build-A-Bear Workshop and now in Build-A-Bearville™ virtual world we have created a safe place where kids can play, express their creativity and use their imaginations.
One 10 year old girl was the inspiration for this entire company – think of the difference you can make! Always believe in your dream.
Chief Executive Bear
Named to FORTUNE's 2013 "100 Best Companies To Work For" list