How Did I Get Here? Sharon Price John, Build-A-Bear’s CEO, knows the toy biz isn’t al­ways soft and cud­dly

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Build-A-Bear Work­shop

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS -


Lin­coln County High School, Fayet­teville, Tenn., class of 1982

Uni­ver­sity of Ten­nessee at Knoxville, class of 1986

Columbia Busi­ness School, class of 1994

Work Ex­pe­ri­ence 1987–88

Ac­count ex­ec­u­tive, Bag­well Com­mu­ni­ca­tions


Se­nior ac­count ex­ec­u­tive, DDB Need­ham


Ac­count su­per­vi­sor, Backer Spielvo­gel Bates


Vice pres­i­dent for in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing, Dis­ney busi­ness unit, Mat­tel


VP for U.S. toy mar­ket­ing and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, VTech


Se­nior VP, U.S. toy mar­ket­ing, Has­bro


Pres­i­dent, Stride Rite Chil­dren’s Group

2013– Present

CEO, Build-A-Bear Work­shop

Life Lessons

1. “Don’t com­part­men­tal­ize work and life. Do what you love.” 2. “A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, per­se­ver­ance, and pas­sion can get you far.” 3. “Be­lieve in your­self, but rec­og­nize you can­not do it alone."

“I was a cheer­leader, gym­nast, and dancer, and I was voted friendli­est and class fa­vorite.” “I worked on Her­shey—the Whatchamac­al­lit bar and the launch of a choco­late-bar-fla­vored pud­ding that didn’t work out.” “The toy in­dus­try is like advertisin­g. It’s fast-paced, and you have to make gut-based calls. I had six ti­tles in five years.” “We pur­chased the rights to one of my fa­vorite toys from child­hood, a fash­ion doll named Dawn. Our con­tainer was on the way from the fac­tory to our first na­tional re­tailer when Sept. 11 hap­pened. Our or­ders were can­celed.” John was founder and CEO of Checker­board Toys from 2000 to 2002 “We lost $49 mil­lion in 2012. In 2014 we were at $16 mil­lion in­come, and now our goal is sus­tained, prof­itable growth—2017 is our 20th an­niver­sary. Kids who played with our prod­ucts now have kids.” “I was one of 11 in the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram in Leu­ven, Bel­gium. It was a crash course in the dif­fer­ent facets peo­ple bring to busi­ness.” “I moved from all of th­ese lit­tle ac­counts to be­ing the su­per­vi­sor on what was, and I be­lieve still is, the largest candy bar in the world: Snick­ers.” “The game changer for my ca­reer was the re­launch of Nerf.” “They really wanted some­one who un­der­stood the in­ter­sec­tion of kids, moms, and brand­ing, and that’s what I do.”

Ring­ing the bell at the NYSE, 2015

As a high school cheer­leader, 1982

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