Julianna Reed is a survivor and not just in the reality TV sense. Yes, the recently crowned winner of CNBC's The Partner overcame her underdog odds -- Reed is the first to cop to her unconventional business background -- to claim the top spot working alongside Marcus Lemonis, serial entrepreneur and host of The Profit. But she also did so with an eye for domestic violence awareness.
"I am a survivor of domestic violence and I actually speak fairly openly about it because I think one of the things that I realized while I was in that relationship is how much shame you hold every day," says Reed.
"I also thought it was really important that, if I had any sort of platform during this competition, that I wanted to make sure that whoever out there has experienced it, is experiencing it, or might experience it, could see me as a source of strength."
Reed, who bested a hyper-competitive applicant pool of over-achievers, now oversees M.L. Creative, a portfolio of Lemonis' lifestyle-focused businesses based out of Santa Monica, CA. It's a good fit for the California native whose meandering professional path has taken her from fashion merchandising and design to the non-profit sector and, now, to small-business entrepreneurship.
Yet more than her varied resume, Reed credits her ability to emerge emboldened from her past abusive relationship as a key motivating factor for her current professional success.
"You know, being The Partner, I have this ability to show the viewers, and to show myself, that there's so many different layers to us as people. … It's scary to tell someone that you're a survivor of domestic violence. You assume that they're gonna judge you in a certain way," she says.
"And so being able to overcome something like that I think really prepared me, like everything in my life, for this moment and being able to come out on the other side. And so I think that it's a strong part of the reason why I'm here."