All Things Anuschka
Photo: Kristin Sink
Take one step into the flora-filled Bloom boutique in Cherry Creek, and you are transported to the creative brain center of owner Anuschka Pashel. The 1,800-square-foot flagship store brims with flowers, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, gifts, furnishings and art, all handpicked (some even designed), styled and adored by Pashel. The ever-changing collection is 16 years in the making, dating back to when she quit her job at a local flower shop to start a floral design business out of her garage.
Born in Germany to parents who fled Czechoslovakia during the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, it makes sense that Pashel’s DNA includes fearless risk-taking. At 18, she left Germany for a modeling gig in Paris that, to her surprise, turned into a 20-year career. Modeling allowed her to travel the world, where she discovered a penchant for collecting handmade goods found at Paris flea markets and Moroccan bazaars. Now 46, Pashel continues to scour the planet in search of extraordinary goods for her two Bloom outposts, bringing global cool to Colorado and curating it all with a dose of her effortless, self-taught chic.
Georgette Mini Chair from Cisco Brothers; mother-of-pearl mirror from India. [Photo: Holly Brown]
How would you describe your style?
My mom probably said it the best. When I turned 40, she wrote a letter and had my sister read it and it said, “Even as a child, Anuschka didn’t follow any rules. She only followed her own rules.” I didn’t have a lot of money or resources when I was younger, but I found things and put them together. I was never a follower; I always started a trend. To this day, I don’t try to come up with a look, I just put together what I like, which is the same for my store—I sell things I think are beautiful.
Pashel on a 1988 cover of Cosmopolitan, photographed in Paris by William Garrett.
When did you first develop a love for design and fashion?
I think you always have it. When I was little, I was already drawn to flowers, jewelry, furnishings, textiles. I always liked it, collected it or made it. When I grew up in Germany, I wasn’t shuffled around from one activity to the next. I’d listen to books on tape, I’d paint in my room—those were my pastimes. We didn’t have all the electronics.
Pashel at 18 years old, soon after she arrived in Paris to pursue modeling.
You left home at 18 to model. Where did you go?
I moved to this five-story walkup in Paris and everything took off from there. I started working for Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. I was so young; I had no idea what was happening. That was my first time being exposed to this Parisian lifestyle. I was traveling all over—Morocco, Thailand, everywhere. I remember a specific trip to Morocco when I should’ve been much more interested in the photo shoot, but all I could think about was going to the bazaar. Back in Paris, I’d go to the flea market every weekend. All of my dishes, all of my furniture, everything was from the flea market; I was obsessed.
A selection of Bloom products styled by Pashel, including a brass foot by Kelly Wearstler and an Indian mother-of-pearl-inlay box. [Photo: Holly Brown]
How did you land in the U.S.?
Eileen Ford came to Paris and invited me to do this competition in New York called “Supermodel of the World.” It was 1988 and the Berlin Wall was still up. I couldn’t go because my parents were foreigners from an Eastern Bloc country and I was not allowed into the U.S. The next day my agent says, “Go to the American embassy and pick up your visa.” For an 18-year-old who thought she could never go to the States, it was a miracle. So I go, I get my stamp, and before I know it I’m on a plane to the U.S. In the competition, there were 32 girls from 32 countries. I went as the Czech girl. I just wanted to have fun; half of it I didn’t even take seriously. I won the thing.
A signature Bloom centerpiece arrangement called a “flower runner.” [Photo: Holly Brown]
What brought you to Denver?
I moved here in 1999 to be with my son Levin. My first husband and I ended up going through this terrible, long divorce and a custody battle. I had a couple choices: either I divorce, take my kid and go back to Europe, or I stay here. It wasn’t the prettier side of life; it was hard. I sometimes wish I was in Europe and could be close to my family, but I always say it’s up to you; you can be happy anywhere. That’s why I created this. I took a lot of things from my travels and brought them here, like European flower design. And it all worked out—I found my wonderful husband Zach, we have two great boys together, Luc and Jack, and Levin works with me. I couldn’t do what I do without them.
A Bloom sunflower arrangement takes center stage at the Denver home of Pashel’s mother-in-law. [Photo: Holly Brown]
Who or what inspires you?
For flowers, I think it’s mostly nature and what nature does with colors. I get inspired by photos on Instagram as well. For interior design, it’s mostly by going to showrooms, markets, traveling places and seeing how things are made, who makes them, how things are put together. Today I get a lot of inspiration by feelings, smells—it’s this whole combination of things.
Some global items found in Bloom: bracelets by California-based Joy Dravecky; pill boxes and a hand-dyed silk skirt, both from India. [Photo: Holly Brown]
Where do you go to find your unique inventory?
I like to go to places where you find handmade items—India, Turkey, Czech Republic. I’m going to Morocco this year. But I find stuff everywhere. I could go to Idaho and find something I love. And then I go to places like High Point Market or other markets with artisans and people that make beautiful furniture.
A Bloom Bijoux bracelet with African brass beads tops a stone Balinese Buddha head. [Photo: Holly Brown]
Tell us about your penchant for art.
I’ve always had it. We used to go to Spain every summer when I was a kid, so that sparked my love for Salvador Dalí. When I was younger, I started collecting my friends’ art and photography without even knowing I was collecting it. I had friends who were starving artists and I was a model who made like $5,000 a day, so I’d buy their paintings so they could eat and pay their rent. I love Peter Beard, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani. It doesn’t have to be a huge name, though. I can walk on the street and find stuff there. A lot of my friends are artists—even my kids are artists—so I see the beauty in that.
Bead bracelets with Buddha head charms were made by Pashel for her Bloom Bijoux jewelry line. [Photo: Holly Brown]
Do you collect anything?
Yes. I’m a pack rat. I have hundreds of thousands of beads: diamond beads, African beads, wooden, plastic, glass, bone, fossil, ceramic. I collect jewelry, textiles, beautiful ribbons, art and sculpture.
What about your wardrobe?
I’m almost 47, so now it’s about comfort. Up until three or four years ago, I was wearing high heels all the time, but now I wear shoes I can walk in all day. I like to look nice, but I don’t buy a whole outfit—I like to mix pieces together. I mix gold and silver and wear what feels good: jeans, simple linen blouses and things that are bohemian.
When did you realize your store was a hit?
The first day we opened this store was a huge success. I expected a $20 day and we made way beyond what we could have ever imagined. It was funny because I made everything look so pretty and then we sold a lot of it. I told my husband, “I don’t like when people buy things. They’re buying all of these beautiful things.” He was like, “You’ve got to get rid of that problem real fast.”