By Lanier Laney
In 2011 Phyllis of Andy’s Secrets on Boundary street celebrated her 20th year of having a successful business here in Beaufort and by the end of that year got to fulfill a lifelong dream to visit Africa.
Phyllis Ann, whose nickname is ‘Andy’ was born and raised in Burton. She first started as a seamstress 22 years ago at Button’s and Bows, then opened her own shop, Andy’s Secrets & Alterations, two years later. Located at 1117 Boundary St. (uptown—across from the Boy’s and Girl’s Club), they offer a wide variety of fashion services including, bridal gowns, formal wear, tuxedo rentals, accessories, shoe dying and apparel. Andy’s is also known for its expert alteration and tailoring services.
Her Experience in Ghana
During her trip to Africa, she took time out to kindly help a native of Ghana open a similar bridal and dress shop there. Here is a description of her exciting trip in her own words:
“In December of 2011, I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams; we—me, Phyllis of Andy’s Secrets, and Joyce Gibbs-Ham of Pairs Community Transitional Center—made our first trip abroad to Africa to the country of Ghana. Our travel to Ghana was an amazing international experience. Getting to see another part of the world and living with and working side-by-side the local people was awesome. We were not worried about stepping outside our comfort zone; we were sincerely welcomed or as many of the locals would say to us: “Welcome home.”
It was a cultural shock to see that 99 percent of the people there are black in Ghana, Africa, and yet comforting. It was more fascinating observing people’s interaction. Everyone got along. It gave us a new perspective on family and work.
There was a strong sense of unity among the Ghanaians living together. There, people are genuinely busy (working) as many would take to the streets with their product on their head, selling items, trying to earn a living or to pay for their education while running their own business. But even in Ghana after a long day’s work many enjoyed going to Church or taking in the night life as they head out to a social spot or night club for dancing and just having a good old time.
The official language in Ghana is English, it being a former English colony, which made it easy for communication. But the most widely spoken language is a native African dialect called “Twi”.
During our stay in Ghana, I helped a native of Ghana, Stella Amanquah,who also owns a business here in Beaufort called “Stella Africa Braids,” establish a bridal and evening wear shop there. I helped Stella design her selling space and become familiar with the marketplace, wholesalers and manufacturers as we shopped for clothing for her inventory. While on the other hand, Joyce of Pairs Community Transitional Center worked with children. By the way Joyce is my sister.
Stella and her family did their very best to make our trip to Ghana pleasurable through visiting many sites of interest in and around Ghana. While in Africa, we visited Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the Labadi Beach in Accra, Kakum National Park in the Central Region, the Trading Fort and Castle in Cape Coast where slaves were traded in the Gold Coast, Central Region.
We also visited the Manhyia Palace and Museum, Kumasi Zoo in Kumasi in the Ashani Region along many more cultural sites. Another awesome experience was going to visit a village. The village was situated away from the city in Bekwai. The village was a place of peace and calm. There appeared to be no worries there as the people live close to the land and its elements. This surrealistic experience appeared to be a place where many retire to relieve themselves of the stresses of life; as they seek relief from everything and return to the ultimate form of simplicity reclaiming their connectedness to the self and the land.
On the other hand, driving around the big cities in Ghana was the most chaotic experience. The enormous amount of people and traffic was overwhelming. Thank God for our chauffeur and tour guide Kofi Appain who took us on a tour around Ghana. We had amazing experiences in Ghana, especially visiting the historic slave trade site at Cape Coast. That experience sent a chill through my body. To have an experience that most only dream of is a gift from God. It was really interesting. Oh, what an awesome experience! “
Her appreciation of Beaufort
Back in the U.S. Phyllis spoke to me about what her thoughts today are about Beaufort. “First of all, I love Beaufort. It is my only home and I just love my childhood memories and the fact that I’ve been able to see the town change in so many ways. I’ve watched it grow from the rural area of Burton, to the now, new and more commercial “Beautiful Beaufort by the Bay”. I like the friendliness and southern hospitality that Beaufortonians seem to possess naturally. They are truly beautiful and pleasant people who represent the “melting pot” of America because in Beaufort you will find everything from historic Gullah-Geechee culture to the finest cuisines found around the world.
Phyllis also loves her family. She met her husband Kevin Sullivan at the Enlisted Club at MCAS Beaufort in 1976. He worked as a Drill Instructor on Parris Island from 1975-1983. He’s now a proud veteran of USMC and remains “Semper Fi”. They are also proud parents of two children: a son, Kevin, 34, and a daughter, Phylicia, 26. Kevin, an engineer, is a City and Regional Planner in Baltimore, Maryland. Phylicia works as a licensed cosmetologist with her own successful business in Charleston, SC.
Phyllis attends Omega Worship Center where the senior pastor is Lawrence Washington. And she tries hard to put her spiritual beliefs into practice everyday at Andy’s Secret.
“It is our greatest pleasure to provide our customers with excellent service as well as personal encouragement as they prepare for any event. Therefore, our motto is: There is no secret what God can do; what He has done for others, He can do for you,” Phyllis says.
Andy’s Secret and Alterations
Located at 1117 Boundary Street, Beaufort SC, 29902