From Junkie to Juicer – the Heroin Addict Who Became a Juice Tycoon

There’s nothing like a good “American Dream” story of someone who turns their life around with nothing but their own hard work and imagination.

That is definitely the case for Khalil Rafiti, who founded the SunLife Organics chain of juices and health drinks. Khalil was once a heroin addict, living on Skid Row, a homeless convicted felon. He weighed a total of 106 pounds and was covered in ulcers and in just overall poor health. In 2007, after he finally made up his mind and fought his addiction to become clean, he opened up his own Sober Living home. Now, in only 13 years, he is a self-made millionaire, with six different locations in Los Angeles for his juice bar chain.

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He credits his success to hitting rock bottom – which he did in 2003, after almost overdosing and being saved by a first responder in 2002, and then after getting almost killed in a breaking and entering situation in 2003 that ended with him going to prison. He had been a successful businessman, detailing cars and creating a thriving business – selling marijuana on the side. Marijuana led to ecstasy, which then led to heroin. He quickly went down the black hole of addiction, and didn’t realize how far into the oblivion he was until he was in prison.

That’s when his friend introduced him to “juicing” and “superfoods.” He became extremely interested in his own health and wellbeing – total recovery. This included taking care of his body, as well as his spirit. Later, in 2007, he would make special juices for patients and staff at his own Sober Living House, Riviera Recovery Center. From there, his juice business took off. It was to the point where many people would travel to Rivera simply to get a smoothie or juice. At that point, he saw the impact his juice was making on these patients – giving them strength, rejuvenating them. He then decided he should open his own juice store – SunLife Organics was born.

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With the motto of “Love, Heal, Inspire” Rafati sells his own brand merchandise which includes jackets and shirts, as well as 32 different kinds of juice, protein shakes, and smoothies. Not to even mention his delicious acai bowls, coffee, sundaes, and frozen yogurt.

He even uses his fortune to share with other less fortunates – the ones who see sees himself in. He hires those who need help – the kind of help that he needed 13 years ago, hoping to do just what his motto says – “Love, Heal, and Inspire.” He gets personal with his staff, believing in them to do better and be better.

What an awesome story! Looks like next time I’m in the LA area, I’ll be checking out SunLife Organics.

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