"It was tough, but by the grace of God I am alive and happy now. I am grateful to be where I am and would not be in the position I am in had I not gone through all that pain. Strange paradox, but my reality nonetheless. That's why I chose the pink lotus as the symbol for SunLife Organics. From the mud and the darkness grows a beautiful flower. That's why I chose the name SunLife. Life in the Sun. It's not just a catchy name and logo, it's who we are."
In 2003, I had reached the peak of suffering the high cost of low living. I was 33 years old, weighed 109 pounds and was living on the streets of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, addicted to heroin and cocaine. With nowhere to go but up, I decided to get sober. Although the future started looking brighter, I was still smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, eating junk food and drinking copious amounts of coffee and energy drinks. I always felt completely drained and devoid of energy. Depression was a constant.
I was soon introduced to juicing and superfoods by a friend of mine. The results were remarkable and instantaneous. I began to feel alive again— my anxiety quickly replaced by excitement and a renewed lust for life. I started getting more and more adventurous in my kitchen, trying to find a way to make all these amazing natural remedies more palatable, even crave-able, so they would be a part of my daily routine that I looked forward to.
So began my journey (some would say obsession) with finding and consuming the best products nature has to offer. I travelled extensively all over India, Indonesia and Central America, constantly asking questions, learning everything I could from gurus to surf bums, Ayurvedic doctors to street vendors. Here in the States, I explored what traditional Western medicine had to offer. I also went to longevity specialists, as well as a handful of so-called ‘healers’. In the end, I found that the truth was not much different than what most people’s grandmothers advised: ‘eat your fruits and veggies’. By eating a diet of organic whole foods— with the addition of some superfoods, regular exercise, a lot of love and compassion from friends and neighbors, and a daily practice of trying to do good deeds for others without getting caught— I found that I didn’t need a guru or ‘healer’ or Western medicine to recover.
In 2011, after joining forces with my business partner Hayley Gorcey, we opened the doors to the first SunLife Organics in Malibu, California with a simple mission: to love, heal and inspire. We wanted to share with our friends, neighbors and members of the community an opportunity to experience what I had— to provide access to true nourishment. We wanted a place where people could go for organic juices, organic smoothies, organic salads, organic everything really. But beyond that, we wanted a place where we could come together and re-connect as a community, away from our iPads, smartphones, and "social networks"; a place to elevate the human spirit and help us get back to basics. We wanted to hire kids from the local community and provide a fun, safe and sober environment for them to learn, grow and thrive.
Every day, we aim to provide the best example we can for operating a business with the well being of people and the planet in mind. SunLife Organics isn’t a juice bar. It’s an experience fueled by the simple but profound joy of human connection and an unrelenting commitment to quality. We hope to see you soon.
- Khalil Rafati
Founder - SunLife Organics
To find out more about Khalil's story, check out his book: I Forgot To Die