303 Style Profile is an ongoing series highlighting unique locals and their incredible style and stories. Go here to see past profiles.
Whether you’ve visited her beautiful Cherry Creek storefront or just eyed the flower stall at Union Station, you’ve likely come across the work of Anuschka Pashel and her business BLOOM by Anuschka. Throughout her childhood growing up in Germany and her tenure as a supermodel jet setting around the biggest fashion hubs of the world, Pashel was always drawn to flowers, concepts of design and simply beautiful things.
Here, she shares her story — an idyllic childhood, the effects of her family being refugees from the Czech Republic, her love of traveling, the modeling lifestyle and the origins of her style. She also dishes on how to create moments and spaces of beauty in your daily life and what her favorite flower is.
303 Magazine: Can you tell us a little about your childhood growing up in Germany?
Anuschka Pashel: I grew up in Germany, in a little town called Saarbucken. It was right on the border with France. I lived with my mom and stepdad in a beautiful home that was like a street in the middle of the forest. We had a really big yard, and one side of my bedroom had a whole window. I spent many hours of my room with the windows open basically looking into the garden and the forest. As a kid, you take these things for granted, but now I know how incredibly lucky I was to be able to have that as your backdrop. I spent a ton of hours in my room listening to books on tapes, and I painted. I painted coathangers and stones. The funny part is, when I went to India for the first time five years ago, everything I painted as a kid was all over India. It was mostly flowers with a green stem and leaves, red center and yellow petals. I drew these things as a kid, and it was pretty wild.
My name is a Hindu name. My name was kind of an accident, as I was supposed to be Ana. The sweet name for Ana in Czech — my parents were Czech — is Anuschka. My parents were refugees from the Czech Republic, so my mom gave birth to me in a German hospital. In order to pay for my birth, she had to work there for three months. The woman that went to get my passport and my birth certificate thought my name was Anuschka. But there is no such thing as accidents.
303: You left Germany at the age of 18 to become a model with Ford. What sparked your interest in modeling?
AP: It was another thing that sort of organically happened. I was a teenager living at home. I wasn’t really getting along with my stepfather, and I just needed to get out. I was going to pursue either being a goldsmith or I was going to go to hotel school in Switzerland. While my mom was ironing clothes one afternoon, she was watching a show that was a modeling competition in Germany. My mom called me over, and we sent in pictures of me. They called me to come to Hamburg, Germany. Three other girls won, but I won a prize that they created for me. It was something like “the face of this competition.” I started modeling in Germany, and then a French agency found me and I moved to Paris. I lived in Paris until Eileen Ford came to Paris and discovered me. It was 1988, and the [Berlin] Wall hadn’t come down yet. I was a refugee from an east block country. I wasn’t able to travel to the United States, but Eileen Ford managed to get me a visa. Then, I was off to Los Angeles. There was a two-week competition in 1988 for supermodel of the world, and I won the whole thing. The rest was history. I modeled for many years.
303: What was the modeling lifestyle like? Do you have favorite memories?
AP: I wouldn’t be here in Denver if it wasn’t for modeling. I can thank my modeling career for a lot of what I have today of three kids, a husband and business. My favorite memories were traveling all over the world and being able to live in Paris, New York and Milan. I stayed in pretty nice hotels and flew business class. I love traveling. It’s my favorite thing. Sometimes, I didn’t even care about the job. I just loved where we went. I was never so much into the modeling. If I were to do it again today, I would approach it differently and be smarter about it. It’s all about how you look, and I wasn’t that confident.
303: You came to Denver in 1998 with seven suitcases. How did you end up here?
AP: My ex-husband moved to Denver to pursue his career, and we have a son together, Levin, who is going to be 28 this November. He just made me a grandma! I have three boys — Levin, Luke and Jack.
303: You talk about how you were always drawn to flowers and concepts of design. How did BLOOM come to be?
AP: I always loved jewelry and made jewelry. I always loved flowers. When I modeled, I made too much money for my age. In my hometown, there was this little flower shop run by this talented gay man, and I loved him. I would go stop by his shop, and I loved what he did with flowers. Back then, I was a student and I bought little things to give to my mom and my friends. When I modeled and made too much money too young. I wanted to share that with my family and brought them flowers. I always liked design, and I love clothes. I love art. I started collecting art at a young age. On all my travels, I would bring back art or ceramics from the bazaars.
In Spain, I bought beautiful balls that I still have in my kitchen now 30 years later. I always had an interest in design and beautiful things. Our hashtag is actually “all things beautiful.” I think beauty is like my language. I like to create these spaces for myself. I can’t keep reality and my dreams separate. I thought does a place like BLOOM exist somewhere that I’ve been? I was trying to find that place, especially in Paris. I walked everywhere, and I stopped taking the subway when I figured out how close the stops were together. Many years later, I went back to Paris, and I was looking for that place. Obviously, it didn’t exist and was a combination of many places.
303: How would you describe your personal style?
AP: Probably bohemian. My mom said it best. When I turned 40, she wrote a speech and she said that I never copied anybody. I always did my own thing as a kid. When I was young, I didn’t have much money, but I remember buying a Benetton scarf. I had this black dress and matched pink lipstick to the pink scarf. I always had a bit of an edge and threw in something that wasn’t expected. I feel like I’m doing the same thing with the flowers and the design and everything. It’s all about textures. I don’t like when things match too much. There’s an art to it. I always try to be as natural as possible, but at the same time, I’m not afraid of color or making a statement. Colorado is very laid-back and casual — sometimes, it’s too casual. I was a little bit afraid I’d get sucked into this casual style, but I don’t do it. Every day, I dress up. Even at home, I like to put on a nice robe or something just because it’s for me, and it makes me feel good. My mom was super influential in my taste. Mine is a bit more vibrant than my mom’s. We sometimes fight over which colors and what goes together.
303: If you had to give someone advice on how to create beauty for themselves in their own lives, what would you recommend?
AP: I’m working on that really hard right now. I always had beautiful homes. My life was a little bit up and down, but you don’t need money to create beauty or to buy beautiful clothes. When I didn’t have any money, we would go to flea markets in Miami and buy old purses, dresses, fur coats and vintage stuff for your house. Flowers are easy ones. Go to an antique store or Goodwill and find a cool vase. Go to Costco and buy roses. I’m kind of loving rituals. I believe that you should sage your space and make it yours. Then, palo santo does the blessings.
That is a ceremony for you, and that’s the first step to create beauty in my eyes. Don’t be afraid of dressing how you want to dress and don’t be afraid of being who you are. Try not to follow trends. We all get roped into trends. I get my inspirations from museums, other artists and nature, but I don’t look at other people’s shops or houses. I try to create my own. Follow your instinct, and just go with it. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Fix it or change it. Pick stuff up from your travels. Always bring stuff back from your travels. If you really want something, don’t hesitate. Buy it, and you’ll find a space for it. I buy everything for this shop. I like to buy things that I love, but I don’t have a problem letting them go and selling them. My house doesn’t look like the shop, but I have a beautiful home.
303: Do you have a favorite flower?
AP: No, I love all flowers. Every flower. Even the ones that I don’t love. Sometimes, I have a favorite flower, but it’s very seasonal. In peony season, I love peonies. As a kid, my favorite flower was definitely a sunflower. I’m a Leo, and I’m ruled by the sun. I’m a fiery sun person.
All photography by Lauren Magin.