Clara Pauline Barck Welles
Most known for co-founding The Kalo Shop in the year 1900, Clara Barck Welles (1869-1965) was many things: a silversmith, a teacher, the daughter of immigrants, and a suffragist. Born in New York and traveling with her family of eight to Oregon, California and finally to Chicago, Illinois, where she studied decorative design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
It was just after graduating that she and five other graduates opened The Kalo Shop, where she and her fellow artisans sold their metalware creations, textiles, and leather goods. With her husband metalworker George Welles, Clara brought her business to Park Ridge where the Kalo Shop Arts Crafts Workshop was opened in a farmhouse. Hiring students and Scandinavian metalworkers, this new arm of The Kalo Shop specialized in silverware and jewelry and increased their employee count to more than 50.
In 1910, Clara joined the Chicago Political Equity League, getting involved in Women’s Suffrage causes. Clara held a number of prominent roles in a number of organizations, including the Park Ridge Improvement Association and the Parade Committee for the Illinois Delegation in the Votes for Women Procession in Washington D.C.