From becoming famous as the only female member of the So Solid Crew, to modeling, a solo career, appearances on TV shows, and more recently launching her own online fashion store and blog, Lisa Maffia is proving to be a versatile success and a pioneering businesswoman. Despite huge success and acclaim, recent events within her family have changed her perspective on life.

Lisa is taking part in Race For Life on 30th July 2011 on Clapham Common. Her mum was diagnosed with cervical cancer in April, which has now spread to other parts of her body. As I talk to her I realise how strong she is. She does not for one moment sound like she is letting it take over her life, she is concentrating on staying positive and focusing on the race, and by doing this, raising money for Cancer Research UK. ‘It really takes over so much of your life, how many people it affects and the money it costs for the treatment. Chemo is really expensive it cost hundreds of thousands per patient, and there’s so many people that need it. Just seeing it with my own eyes really woke me up to see the input this charity has with cancer.’ I don’t think anyone really takes notice of certain charities to do with disabilities or illness until it happens to someone in your family or friends. As they say ignorance is bliss, but you can’t ignore it when it’s affecting someone so close to you.

Cancer Research UK carries out vital work and constantly needs new equipment in the journey to fight cancer for each individual person. ‘Your type of chemo is custom made to your blood type, your weight and lifestyle. There is so much that is put into each persons treatment.’ Race For Life is so fundamental in raising money and awareness,’ Lisa tells me, ‘you can support by taking part in the race it’s £14 to sign up per person for Race for Life. You can raise money personally yourself or donate to any team you want; there are hundreds of thousands of teams. You can also volunteer to work with the charity on the more admin sides of things.’

Lisa has worked on many projects since So Solid Crew. Her recent venture, House Of Maffia, is a platform for emerging designers and brands to be seen and contacted by musicians, stylists and retailers. ‘House of Maffia happened because I was going to Red Carpet events, and you get a dress from a designer, but someone else may have it and that person could turn up in exactly the same thing that your wearing. I just wanted to create a platform for new and up coming designers to show their individuality and their style.’ Lisa’s sources the designers herself by going to fashion week, social networking sites and word of mouth. The fashion industry is not something that is new to her; she has modelled for many men’s and women’s magazines.

The workrate, energy and commitment she puts into music has never stopped. Touring the islands this summer doing PA’s, some of them alongside former So Solid member Romeo, ‘the response is still phenomenal, it’s not changed since the first time we went out there. Our music really has left a hardcore imprint in the industry.’ After moving on from So Solid to launch her solo career, and showing off her feminine, sexy side, ‘I was a lot more tom boy in those days, you wouldn’t catch me out my trainers,’ her sound softened, leading to the release of several r&b tracks.

She has been in touch with some up and coming dubstep producers, which is the sound direction that she wants to move into now. Although she wants to start doing dubstep she is honest in telling me, ‘I don’t really know about dubstep too much at the moment, I need to research it more. I like what Katy B is doing, I think I need to take a little learning curve out of her. She’s doing really well, she’s a talented girl and young. People may say, ‘she’s younger than you, you’ve got things to teach her.’ You can learn from anyone though.’

Multi talented Lisa has already achieved a lot, and appears ready to achieve a lot more, ‘my goals have changed dramatically since the So Solid era, but I think that’s something that comes with age. I think just with age you change, you have more priorities.’ Two roles in the upcoming films, ‘Devils Dandruff,’ and the animation ‘Rats in Space,’ have opened the door to further acting. ‘I’ve been offered roles in the past but never taken them. I think it has to be something that fits you well so you can do the role well.’

House of Maffia is due to be relaunched in late autumn, with the designers going up on the site, along with a profile of them so they can easily be contacted. Lisa will also be releasing new music if not late this year, then definitely next year, ‘we’re independent we work on our own time, so we can do it whenever we want and wait for the right moment. I will definitely be back out there soon.’ The tour is continuing until October; to keep up to date you can join Lisa’s Facebook group.

Follow Lisa Maffia on Twitter @Lisamaffiauk

You can donate money to Team Maffia here http://www.raceforlifesponsorm

Words By Shireen Fenner

Photography by Arron Dunworth