Plymouth County

Middleboro woman trades in career as state investigator to creating wooden flower arrangements

MIDDLEBORO, Mass. — For fifteen years, she worked as an investigator for the state. But it was her wedding bouquet that blossomed into a new career.

She’s not your typical florist.

“Because it’s wood, it has to be wet, so it’s pliable,” said Kelly Totman, as she created a flower out of a tree root.

Kelly Totman puts together beautiful bouquets and floral arrangements, but instead of blossoming off a stem, her flowers come from beneath the ground.

“This comes from the root of a tropical tree,” said Totman, owner of Knotty Totty’s Designs. “And if you imagine, like a giant sweet potato, it gets shaved into itself to create rolls just like this.”

Kelly started making wooden flowers after ordering a wooden flower bouquet for her wedding.

“I was so happy and excited,” said Totman. “I said, ‘I can keep this forever.’ And then I started making smaller arrangements for friends and family for gifts. And people said, ‘You should start selling these.’”

With a master’s in criminal justice and working as an investigator for the state, Kelly kept making arrangements on the side. Her sales catapulted during the pandemic when people weren’t going into floral shops and instead ordering online. That’s when she decided to go all in with Knotty Totty’s Designs.

“People thought I was crazy the way you’re leaving your career,” said Totman. “And I’m like, I can. I have to take this chance. I’ll never know if I don’t.”

Since Kelly went full-time with Knotty Totty’s Designs in 2021, she sells her wood and flowers online and to a couple of stores locally, and she also ships throughout the country. Kelly either dyes, paints, or airbrushes each flower and customizes it to any color. She says the wooden arrangements last forever — and look real.

“To the point where people come up and they’re not sure if they’re fresh flowers or fake flowers,” said Totman.

Before becoming her own boss, Kelly had never owned a business. She says she’s still learning and hopes one-day Knotty Totty’s Designs will have its own storefront —allowing her new career to bloom.

“It taps into a different side of my brain as far as creativity,” said Totman. “And it just genuinely brings me happiness, you know, being able to do this. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I’m going out to play with flowers all day. And it’s really enjoyable. It makes me happy.”

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