Alma Wolverton - Women of Influence Rational. Spiritual. Fearless.
Since the age of 14, Alma Wolverton had a feeling that fashion was her fate. “For some unexplained reason, I always knew that owning a store(s) was part of my destiny.” The personal stylist and owner of two Fresno boutiques followed an unconventional route to where she is today. Though Wolverton wanted to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising right out of high school, she wound up going to Fresno State and obtained her BA in Social Work Education before venturing into retail. “Despite my path, retail and fashion were two things that I closely followed.”
In 2013, that passion manifested into her first brick and mortar—pum bum society™ sells contemporary women’s apparel, located in the Shops at River Park. Just around the corner, MANTRA by AHL-mə™, which offers athletic apparel for women and men, opened less than a year ago. And if you’d rather hand over the job of dressing your person to someone else entirely, Wolverton offers personal fashion styling services for women and men.
Each business venture evolved from and built upon a void Wolverton saw in the greater Fresno area market. “I began with one store (pum bum society™) and in the beginning I was working my own store.” Through that process, she got to meet a lot of people—many of whom were clients who would request that she come out to their homes for individual assistance. “That is how the personal styling service developed. We had nothing like it in Fresno and there was a real need. I had no idea that I was naturally gifted in that area or that the demand would be as great as it continues to be today.” She now serves both women and men all over Fresno and its surrounding communities.
And then there’s MANTRA. “2018 was the year of MANTRA. There was a lot of research, patience and risk involved in getting MANTRA up and running.” Being her second store to open within 5 years, and working in tandem with her personal styling business in full force, Wolverton focuses on the long term. “My only goal professionally is to see my businesses grow and sustain itself amidst the constant ebbs and flows of retail. We want to remain relevant and also continue to provide our customers with a unique experience [at MANTRA].”
When it comes to family, Wolverton’s big picture takes on a different form. “Personally, I am trying to be more present and being more intentional with my time as I strive for, and truly value, a balanced life.” Having always prioritized family despite her professional goals, she attributes her ability to maintain this balance to her amazing staff. “I have been so lucky with my employees at both my stores … Team work does indeed make the dream work.”
So does having a partner in crime. “I have been blessed by an amazing husband.” Wolverton is referring to Joshua, to whom she has been married for nine years. The couple have two boys together, Roman, 8, and William, 6. Even though “my kids are by far the greatest gift from God,” she said, “Being a working mother is tough.”
Becoming a mother has humbled Wolverton, who believes her levels of understanding and compassion have been amplified by the experience—skills she believes have come in handy as an entrepreneur. While the relationship between motherhood and career is a balancing act, Wolverton sees a direct link in how her professional performance influences her boys. “There is a certain pressure that comes with being a mother, a stylist, a wife, etc. I hope that in the process of working, my children are learning the sacrifice and discipline it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.” She learned that from her parents, who were also successful entrepreneurs who instilled discipline and an unmatched work ethic in their daughter. “I hope that my children also learn the value of hard work, embrace good virtues, become honest, respectful, and moral young men.”
Giving back is also important to Wolverton, which lead to her partnership with the Marjaree Mason Center (MMC). Her personal styling services also include closet purges. “Items that have been gently used and/or no longer wanted by the client are conveniently taken away from their home and then donated to the MMC … When I donate my time to those in need, it yanks me out of what I know and what I am familiar with. In return, I am given a deeper understanding of why community, people, spirituality…matter. My blessings become a little more clear.”
For Wolverton, that means understanding that every day is a gift—a chance to grow, to believe, and to learn. In turn, she believes, we find happiness. “Happiness is in all the little things we often take for granted: a hot cup of coffee, the first breath of air we breathe when we wake up in the morning, good health, meeting new people, being physically able to work out, and the quality time to spend with loved ones.”
This mentality stems from times when Wolverton struggled with her health, leading her to reflect deeply on what it meant to have it. “When I was laying there on a hospital bed … I realized how lucky I was to have the ability to run, eat certain foods, and be back on my feet. Health is everything.”
God, family, and forgiveness are at the center of her life mantra. Admittedly a slight germophobe, Wolverton believes in giving her body special attention, including eating right. She tries to sage herself and surrounding environment almost daily, and goes full force on things outside her comfort zone. “I take different routes to work every day because I get bored … I like making small connections with strangers because it keeps life interesting. I love reading, exercising, traveling, and the outdoors.” Obviously this entrepreneur has the wellness thing figured out… So, what’s her indulgence? “Cake... for breakfast!”
Through her largely creative work, Wolverton is indeed making an impact on society. “I love how fashion makes other people feel, because how we make people feel DOES MATTER. I want everyone to feel confident and beautiful in what they wear,” in every aspect of daily life. As an entrepreneur, a buyer, a stylist, a wife, and a mom, her many roles require various personality traits, but it seems her compassionate heart is a major motivator. “The world needs more love and we have to fix our hearts and be better to one another. We all need to experience an awakening and not contribute to spiritual deafness. We shouldn’t be apologetic for who we are because we are all in this human race together. Let’s always encourage one another in whichever path we are choosing to live as we pass one another. Uniting and being one is of utmost importance.”