Sometimes, you just can't say it any better yourself.

Ruby Chambers, founder of The Ruby Collection and developer of Opera Alley in Tacoma, was nominated for Women of Influence by a longtime friend who had this to say about her:

“I have known my friend Ruby for the last twenty years. During that time, I've seen her grow her custom accessory business from a small storefront into a mega wholesale distributor with showrooms in the biggest markets in the country and sales in the multimillions. She took her money and reinvested it into the community and bought a couple of properties in downtown Tacoma. It was her vision and hard work that transformed an old alley full of dumpsters and trash into what is now a retail gem of downtown called Opera Alley. When the market tanked in '07 and '08, so did her high end accessory business and she was forced to downsize and recreate herself yet again.

“Today, she has become a champion and a mentor for small businesses. She and her husband George have painstakingly restored their downtown properties into affordable retail spaces for young entrepreneurs and upstarts. She has used all of the knowledge she gained from creating her own business to help market and coach all of her tenants as they start on their own entrepreneurial journeys. She has created a community of like-minded pioneers in downtown Tacoma and has organized open houses and public events to draw attention and bring business success for everyone under her umbrella. The hand print of her impeccable design sense and entrepreneur spirit is all over Opera Alley and the Ledger Square Building. She is a true inspiration to me and everyone else she meets.”

For her part, Chambers herself is modest about her accomplishments. She ran the Ruby Collection, a successful interior manufacturing company, for 30 years, before transitioning into developing Opera Alley, where Ruby and George have spearheaded the effort to reinvigorate the corridor.

Hers is a drive she says she inherited from one of her original role models: her grandmother, whom Chambers often stayed with as a child. A successful entrepreneur, she ran a successful deli, raced motorcycles and survived the Nazi army during WWII in Austria. She also gave Chambers her first job: washing dishes.

It's been a long time since she labored over that sink, but the lessons she learned there — as well as those learned over years as a proactive businesswoman and community member in the South Sound — have earned Chambers a well-deserved title: 2013 Woman of Influence.

Congratulations, Ruby, for being honored at this year's event! For tickets and other information about Women of Influence 2013, hit this link.