SunLife Organics is a very popular and trendy juice, smoothie, and superfood bar in the LA area (now with six different locations). Celebrities like Denise Richards, Liam Hemsworth, and Orlando Bloom frequent the spot, and it's become a known staple in the California city, but the story behind the shop isn't nearly as glamorous as its exterior. 

What's the Story?

Despite all of the glitz and glamour, people may not know that just 13 years ago, the founder, Khalil Rafati, was a homeless drug addict living in a dangerous Los Angeles area. Juices and superfoods played a big role in his recovery, which led him to open up his own juice bar dedicated to health, compassion, and wellness (both mental and physical).

Khalil Rafati's Tough Past

Rafati grew up in Toledo, Ohio and had a grim childhood marked by sexual abuse. He finally moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to get away and start a new life. He was successful at first, establishing his own business that dealt sports cars.

He even had celebrity clients including Elizabeth Taylor and Slash, the guitarist for Guns n' Roses. The only issue was that he began to invest his money in bulk purchases of marijuana, which he would sell in small amounts at an expensive price. He moved on to dealing even more dangerous drugs like ecstasy and ketamine.

The Realization That Changed It All 

Rafati finally hit rock bottom when he intentionally overdosed on heroin at a party in 2001. He only survived because paramedics rushed to the scene and again, a year later, when cops shot at the door where he was inside shooting up drugs.

He finally decided, then and there, to make a huge push towards sobriety and recovery. After years of working on himself, Rafati founded a sober living house in Malibu in 2007 called Riviera Recovery. It was there that he began to concoct the signature smoothies of SunLife Organics. 

He would make these smoothies to help strengthen and rejuvenate patients at the center. He's said, "Lethargy in early sobriety is pretty brutal, especially if you’re coming off of a long run with hard-core drugs."

Patients at Riviera Recovery loved his smoothies so much that word of them began to spread around Los Angeles. People started coming to the sober living house just for smoothies — not even because they needed to recover from addiction. That moment was when Rafati knew he had to open up a SunLife Organics to "love, heal, and inspire" (their motto) the greater Los Angeles community. 

Today, Rafati is a millionaire who has been sober for 13 years. If that isn't a success story, then I don't know what is. With the goal of helping addicts to lead happier and healthier lives, he now hires people who need the kind of help he did 13 years ago. To learn more about Rafati's story, check out his memoir entitled: I Forgot to Die, and visit SunLife Organics to get a yummy taste of the elixir that has lead him and many others to recovery.