Former Norfolkan living dream as store owner in Omaha
OMAHA — Katie “Danger” Schmitz is finally living her dream.
After years of struggling to find her niche, the 2003 graduate of Norfolk Catholic High School recently opened her own store — Red H Nutrition — in Omaha and is loving every moment.
“Every time I look at the sign that’s lit up, it’s real,” she said. “I’m finally doing what I wanted to do and that’s help people live life better.”
Schmitz — whose parents, John and Lisa Schmitz, still live in Norfolk — grew up dreaming of being a police officer thanks, in part, to the influence of a neighbor who worked for the Nebraska State Patrol and served in the National Guard.
“I admired him,” she said. “I looked up to him as a kid, and I decided I was going to join the National Guard, too.”
While pursuing a degree in criminal justice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Schmitz joined the National Guard, where she earned the nickname “Katie Danger,” a moniker that has stuck. She completed her basic training and job training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., where she served as a military police officer.
After finishing her degree, she was hired by the police department in Austin, Texas, but she quickly realized that law enforcement was not for her.
“I really didn’t know how to tell my parents,” she said. “What am I going to do if I’m not a cop?”
Schmitz moved to Omaha and took a temporary position in recruiting and retention for the Nebraska National Guard, but budget cuts resulted in that job being eliminated. She then began “bouncing around from multiple nine-to-fives” in an effort to find her place.
Everything she did seemed to point her back to the love of fitness she developed when she was in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), she said.
“Cross fit was getting really popular, and all of those guys were doing cross fit. I did more triathalons and stuff. I got into fitness as a way to feed that desire to help people better their lives,” she said.
After a series of unfulfilling jobs, Schmitz said she decided to start a nutrition supplement company. She cashed in some retirement funds and worked with a contract manufacturer for the product she then sold out of her basement, she said.
It served as a side job for Schmitz for about a year. By that time, she had built up her clientele enough to leave her day job. A little more than a year after that, she opened her own storefront shop for Red H Nutrition near the intersection of 120th and Blondo streets in Omaha.
The business sells a range of fitness and nutrition products for customers who are looking for a boost with their aggressive fitness goals, as well as for customers who are interested in general health and wellness.
The store is open from 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Although the store opened on Nov. 3, its official grand opening will be Saturday, Jan. 5.
Schmitz said she has built a community of supporters and has representative athletes for her product in almost all 50 states. She intends to operate as if the store is a franchise with the intention of opening more stores in the future.
“I’d love to have a store in Norfolk one day,” she said.
Schmitz said she would encourage others who are seeking their dream job to continue searching until they find what they are looking for.
“There’s going to be trial and error — so much trial and error and disappointment, sometimes unfathomable disappointment. ... Don’t be afraid of failure,” she said.