Originally from Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China, Wenzong Shea (佘文宗) (reign title: Kenshing 建成), who belonged to the 21st generation of the Shea's family, was originally a peasant that worked menial jobs. Through an arranged match making by his parents, he met Kuanzhi Hong (洪宽治), who came from a rather wealthy family but married him later on.
After their marriage, Mr. Wenzong Shea was the first of the Shea's family to move from Quanzhou to Hong Kong looking for a better life. The father and mother of six sons and three daughters, he worked very hard to afford a family of eleven. In 1965, with just barely enough savings, Wenzong established his company - Ken Shing Knitting Factory Ltd.
His nine children later joined the company as adults and with their teamwork and dedication, the company gradually became one of the biggest knitwear manufacturers in Hong Kong during the 80s with an annual turnover of over 100 million Hong Kong Dollars.
The business grew but sadly the parent founders of the company passed away when they both just a little over 60. Despite the sadness this event caused the family, the second generation remained united and continued the business through their own graft and determination.
Just before his death, Mr. Shea named his fifth son Mr. Armstrong MC Shea （佘明聪）as the new Chairman of the company. After Armstrong overtook the business, the other siblings continued to be supportive and made the business even bigger. Ken Shing then became a knitwear manufacturer that includes hand knit, hand crochet, macramé, embroidery, machine knit etc..
In the 80s, while Hong Kong's salary was increasing rapidly, China's reform and opening provided a huge labor market for the Shea's business. Under Armstrong's leadership, the factory was moved back to Quanzhou to lower labor costs. Furthermore, he invented a way of examining knitters that could knit 5,000 stitches per hour as a basic standard for technicians who work at the factory. This ensured the costing, lead time and quality of the handcraft product reached clients' requirements.
With both traditional, yet creative ideas, the business quickly attracted many well-known designer labels and even new talented designers who looked to the factory to help them bring to life their most imaginative designs. Throughout that time, Ken Shing not just only expanded their business by bringing in more and more clients, but also by providing a platform for certain designers to develop their careers and become famous fashion labels.
In order to be more focused on each manufacturing category, in 1990, the brothers decided to distribute handcraft and mass production into two different sectors. In this way, Armstrong reorganized the company and the new Ken Yuan Knitting Factory Ltd. was established. This allowed Armstrong and his team to be more focused on the highest end products, from hand knit, hand crochet, macramé, embroidery, intarsia to more complicated computerized machine knits.
From studying client's technical packages, sampling development to bulk production, washing, ironing, mending and packaging, every single stage is designed to provide the best quality for Ken Yuan's clients. Unlike most factories, which deal in mass production, Ken Yuan was set up over time with the utmost care and professionalism. The artisans, most of whom have worked continuously on knitting every day for over 20 years, are one of the major reason that Ken Yuan has maintained such a high standard. With the care and devotion of everyone who works in Ken Yuan, each product that is produced contains part of that working spirit, and is therefore set apart from your average knitted product.
'Working in a harmonious way' is something that Armstrong encourages his team to do. Many of the artisans, staff and even counterparts have been, working for Ken Yuan since it was established, with some even starting during the Ken Shing era.
'Knitwear' is something that runs in the Shea's family blood, and this is why, the 3rd generation are now taking over the reins of the family business. They are not looking to get rich quick, but to show the care, the love, the responsibility and the persistence to continue what their grandfather created.