Ina Almén was a successful director of the consumer association Kvinnornas Andelsförening Svenska Hem.
Ina Almén was born in Uppsala in 1863. She was the eldest child of August Almén and Sanna Fries. Her home life was heavily influenced by science. August Almén was a professor of medical and physiological chemistry at Uppsala university. Ina Almén’s maternal grandfather was the famous botanist and professor Elias Fries. In 1883 Ina Almén and her family moved to Stockholm where Ina Almén completed a three-year training course at Tekniska skolan (technical college). She was then employed as a draughtswoman with Misses Selma Giöbel and Bertha Hübner at their newly-established industrial art company, which later became the limited company called Svenska Konstslöjdutsällning. A few years later she took on a position as treasurer for AB P.A. Norstedt & Söner publishing house, where she remained for ten years. She then worked as her father’s secretary when he, towards the end of his life, was engaged in a major statistical enquiry as part of his role as director general of the Medical Board. Following her father’s death Ina Almén focused on her interest in industrial art albeit without any formal employment. She undertook study trips abroad, held courses, and wrote articles on industrial art.
Ina Almén and her good friend Anna Whitlock were involved in setting up Kvinnornas Andelsförening Svenska Hem, which opened its first shop in Stockholm in 1905. The following year Ina Almén became executive officer of the newly established company. Her interest in design and handicrafts lay behind her determination to create a beautiful environment inside the just-opened shop. She became known for her interest in the working environment and staff and for her ability to resolve any difficulties that arose. Amongst other things she undertook a shopping trip to Germany, the Netherlands, and to Great Britain in the spring of 1906 in her search for suppliers willing to ignore the boycott imposed on Svenska Hem by the Stockholm Specerihandlareförening (grocers’ association). Following a dispute with the board over staff Christmas bonuses Ina Almén resigned in 1910. She then dedicated herself to creating a home for children who were handicapped and suffering the effects of polio. This home later was expanded into a boarding school in Lidingö.
Ina Almén was elected into the cultural association called Nya Idun in 1902. Gurli Linder, who was already a member of the association, interviewed Ina Almén for the journal Idun in April 1908 in which she described Ina Almén as a person of considerable intellectual talent, who had a rare ability for clear thinking, strictly goal-oriented energy, and was a successful boss. In 1918 Ina Almén was elected into Idun’s women’s academy, an exclusive group which included Selma Lagerlöf and Karolina Widerström, as well as other well-known women.
Ina Almén never married and lived at home until she was almost 50 years old. Along with two of her siblings Tore Almén, a judge, and Gunhild Almén, a school principal, she devoted herself to the Almén family archives, which to a large extent also comprises the Fries family. Ina Almén contributed important memoirs to the archive.
Ina Almén died in Stockholm in 1938.