This Former Skid Row Heroin Addict Now Owns a Multimillion-Dollar Juice Company

Just 14 years ago, Khalil Rafati was addicted to heroin and crack, and now he owns the successful Sunlife Organics brand

Now it’s a different type of juice that he’s pushing.

Khalil Rafati is now the successful entrepreneur and founder of Sunlife Organics, the California-based organic juice and superfoods company. But 14 years ago, you’d never have recognized him. Rafati started his career at rock bottom, on the streets as a drug addict, as revealed in a recent profile by the BBC.

At the age of 21, Rafati had moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a movie star, but he started spiraling downward. By 2003 he was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine, weighed just 109 pounds, and had just overdosed for the ninth time. After that final overdose, Rafati checked himself into a rehab facility for four months and has been clean ever since.

Once his road to recovery began, Rafati began juggling multiple jobs and saving money a little bit at a time. He began making his own fruit and vegetable juices with the help of a friend and became obsessed. At first, he distributed these juices to residents at a brand-new rehab facility he had opened to help others who were struggling with similarly harrowing life circumstances.

He started with a custom juice mix for residents, called Wolverine, made with bananas, maca powder, royal jelly, and pollen. That’s when he had the idea to open up Sunlife Organics with his then-girlfriend in 2011. Six years later, Rafati makes $6 million annually selling organic juices and superfoods, along with inspirational clothing that’s a nod to his tragic backstory. He also owns a yoga center and has written a memoir called I Forgot to Die.


“I don't consider myself super intelligent,” Rafati told the BBC. “But I have a hunger for life, and put all of myself into something when I decide to do it.”